News

Manhunt includes Plateau

By Kevin Hanson

The Courier-Herald

A recent nationwide roundup of fugitives had law enforcement authorities scouring the Plateau.

U.S. Marshall Eric Robertson, a fourth-generation Buckley resident, said officials attempted to apprehend two local fugitives - one living in the Buckley area just off state Route 410, the other near South Prairie. Those efforts were initially unsuccessful, he said, but agents will continue the search.

The nationwide roundup that saw more than 10,000 fugitives taken into custody was highly successful in Bonney Lake, where authorities arrested a man who has been on the run for three years.

Nabbed during Operation FALCON - an unprecedented, cooperative effort among federal, state and local law enforcement authorities - was Brian E. Neal. He was arrested during the early-morning hours of April 8 at a home off South Tapps Drive. When agents made the arrest, they also found a sophisticated growing operation involving 522 marijuana plants carrying a potential street value of $1.5 million.

Neal had been wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration for cocaine distribution. Authorities allege he was part of a cocaine and marijuana distribution organization operating in eastern Washington and he was originally investigated by the Tri-Cities Metro Drug Task Force in Pasco. He had been a fugitive since 2002.

Operation FALCON (Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally) took place April 4 through April 10 and saw the arrest of 10,340 fugitives across the country. Almost 70 of those arrests came from the Puget Sound region.

"This was an enormous challenge that produced the largest number of arrests ever recorded by a single operation," Robertson said.

Operation FALCON focused on gang-related crimes, homicides, sexual assaults, kidnappings, unregistered sex offenders and crimes against both children and the elderly. In western Washington, authorities turned up 1,000 Ecstasy tablets, other drugs and dangerous weapons, along with the marijuana found during Neal's arrest. Nationally, authorities seized 243 guns and arrested 154 documented gang members, 162 homicide suspects, 638 armed robbery suspects and 553 sex offenders.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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