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Warrant roundup targeting gang "scourge" nets 119 felony arrests

Warrant roundup targeting gang "scourge" nets 119 felony arrests

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A five-day warrant roundup operation that wrapped up Friday netted 119 suspects in McLennan County, including many with gang affiliations, authorities said.

“Operation Washout” rounded up suspects on outstanding state felony warrants for violent crimes, including capital murder and gang-related crimes, authorities said during a press conference. They declined to give any names or clarify what kinds of gangs might have been involved.

U.S. Marshals Service Supervisor Director Robert Garmon said the operation included local agencies and was significantly successful in the short time period.

“Operation Washout is a partnership of a lateral effort of local, state and federal authorities to target violent gang members and individuals from our communities that commit violent felony crimes,” Garmon said. “They will now face justice with due process.”

Marshals were aided in partnership with McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, Waco Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives officials.

Waco Police Chief Ryan Holt said the partnership was a collaborative effort with the multiple agencies aimed at keeping the Waco area a safer place.

“The Waco Police Department and the partners will not allow Waco and McLennan County to become a haven for fugitives from justice,” Holt said. “We will work with our partners, as we do every day, we will (use) our resources of our partner agencies, and we will use the taxpayer resources to the best of our ability to ensure that Waco and McLennan County is a safe environment.”

A DPS “gang threat assessment” last November reported that the Crips and Bloods gangs had a “significant presence” in Bell, McLennan and Williamson County, and that rival motorcycle gangs were continuing to challenge the dominant Bandidos gang that was involved in a 2015 shootout at Waco’s Twin Peaks restaurant.

Holt on Friday highlighted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s support of two new anti-gang centers in Waco and Tyler. He said the operation is a key message that gang activities will not be tolerated in McLennan County.

“This operation is the epitome of leveraging resources through local agencies to have an effect to make the community in which we all live, work and plan a safer place,” Holt said. “The takeaway from that is this is not going to be a haven for a criminal element and we are willing to do anything it takes to get those folks off the streets.”

Sheriff Parnell McNamara echoed those statements, saying that his office will “fight this horrible scourge of gangs” that are affecting the county. He said the roundup was a testament to teamwork among the agencies.

“Our main goal, like all the officers involved here, is to make McLennan County and Central Texas a safer place for all of us to live,” McNamara said. “This is a good start and we are going to keep the heat turned up on these criminals.”

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