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Law and Order

Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Operation Nets 120 Arrests

A multi-jurisdictional local law enforcement initiative dubbed “Operation Triple Beam” has netted the arrest of 120 people and the seizure of 45 firearms, two vehicles, nearly $19,000 and nearly 12 kilograms of narcotics in Southwest Florida. 

Operation Triple Beam is an initiative of the U.S. Marshal Service aimed at curbing gangs and other criminal organizations involved in violent crime, gun violence and drug trafficking.  The local operation was carried out over 90 days between May 1st and Aug. 1st in collaboration with the U.S. Marshal Service Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Fort Myers Police Department, the Cape Coral Police Department, the State Attorney’s Office for Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

“The Triple Beam Operation was created to support the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods and the National Safety Partnership for Organized Enforcement of Task Forces,” said U.S. Marshall for the Middle District of Florida William Berger at a press conference, Thursday, at the Federal Court House in downtown Fort Myers.

Of the 120 people arrested, 106 face state or local charges ranging from low-level offenses like marijuana possession to more serious offenses like assault or weapons-related charges.  Other charges include robbery, larceny, kidnapping and lewd or lascivious acts with a minor.  Fort Myers Police Chief Derrick Diggs said his department played a key role in the operation.

“Through coordinated efforts, utilizing data from our state-of-the-art real-time crime center, members of the Fort Myers Police Department Elite Special Enforcement Division and Crime Analyst Division were able to identify specific areas and persons for law enforcement to coordinate their investigative effort,” said Diggs.

U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida Maria Chapa Lopez said the operation is about more than just getting prosecutions.  “It is also about outreach and prevention and assistance with reentry to hopefully assist those who have offended in the past to successfully re-enter our society and hopefully be a productive citizen.”

State Attorney for Florida’s 20th Judicial Circuit Amira Fox said state prosecutors had been working behind the scenes months before Operation Triple Beam began by procuring arrest and search warrants.

Chief Diggs said about 90 percent of arrests through the operation occurred in the city of Fort Myers.

“These individuals are also connected to other types of crime. So when we remove these individuals, you know, it’s not just like the fact that they’re only participating in a certain type of crime or not.  They’re all connected,” said Diggs.

“So while some of these individuals may not be arrested on the mother load, if we can get them on a gun charge and work on our Federal partners, that charge would probably be more serious than some of the gun charges we could get them on.”

One of those arrested in the operation faces a federal charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and could face ten years in prison, but Fox and Chapa Lopez said none of the cases on either the state or federal level have made their way through the system yet.

Since 2010, the U.S. Marshal Service has carried out 80 Operation Triple Beam initiatives across the country including four in Florida.