ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An interagency sweep by state and national law enforcement agencies has netted dozens of violent offenders and gang members. Operation Gangbusters is the first of its kind in Alaska, and officials say it's a breakthrough for the state.
During the operation, which took place Wednesday through Friday, law enforcement officers say they arrested individuals with active warrants, performed home visits on probationers and parolees, and investigated gang-related activities.
The agencies say the sweep led to 45 arrests in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley, as well as information that will result in many more.
“I don't think anybody has done an operation of that many agencies and with that many officers before,” said Sgt. Kathy Lacey with APD’s vice unit.
Both Lacey and David Long, an enforcement supervisor with the U.S. Marshals Service, call the sweep the largest interagency operation in state history. Over 100 officers from 12 state and federal agencies worked together to bring in dozens of suspects.
“Violent offenders and gang members are a large portion of the crime that's being committed, so those are the offenders that we wanted to target -- so not only to put bad guys in jail, but to help the community and reduce some of the crime in the neighborhoods,” Long said.
While Long says a lot of the arrests took place in Fairview, Mountain View and Spenard, he adds that there are crime problems throughout Anchorage.
On top of the arrests, Operation Gangbusters resulted in the recovery of a runaway person, a sawed-off rifle, two stolen guns and two stolen snowmachines. Officials also busted a meth dealer and dismantled two marijuana grow operations.
“In addition to the people we arrested we made tremendous street contacts,” Lacey said. “I mean we talked to everybody, we had teams out there talking to people on the street, in hotel rooms -- everybody.”
The agencies say the operation would not have been possible without interagency team work and communication, which officials described as crucial.
“Now we know how effective it is when we get together and can work, and it's a good thing for all of us to see that, because we can always grow in the future with cooperation,” Long said.
While the sweep is over, officials say the information gathered this week will lead to more arrests in the coming days. They add that Operation Gangbusters will make it easier for the various agencies to communicate and work together in the future.
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