Thu, April 09

25 felony warrants during Yavapai County sweep

PRESCOTT -- From June 18- 22, the Yavapai Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Marshals Service and other Yavapai County law enforcement agencies participated in a joint fugitive roundup, "Operation Independence."

The operation targeted Yavapai County fugitives charged with felonies; 25 felony arrests were made plus the seizure of salable amounts of narcotics and dangerous drugs.

The task force cleared a total of 82 warrants, including fugitives already found to be in-custody or deceased,

Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher said, "I appreciated the opportunity to partner with the U.S. Marshals and a majority of the law enforcement agencies in Yavapai County to find and arrest these fugitives in a coordinated effort.

"The fugitives saw firsthand how law enforcement agencies worked together sharing information and resources to effect the arrests."

"Through close cooperation with the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, and our other law enforcement partners," U.S. Marshal David Gonzales said, "our communities have been made safer as a direct result of this operation. It is important that fugitives on the run are taken off the streets as soon as possible, as they commit numerous crimes in order to provide for their day-to-day needs."

Arrested during the operation was Nerphyne Sittingbear, who had imprisoned his girlfriend during a domestic dispute. Operation Independence Partners developed information that found Sittingbear had fled to Colorado for almost one year.

He was subsequently contacted by the local Marshals Service in Denver, was arrested, and is waiting extradition to Arizona.

Operation Independence Partners tracked fugitive Jared Smith across Prescott.

He was wanted for the possession of dangerous drugs, and was suspected of being involved in the continued sale of heroin while on the run. The task force encountered and arrested several of his criminal associates.

Smith was finally located at a Prescott residence hiding out with his girlfriend.

The girlfriend was wanted on a felony charge of violating probation, and, another associated Scott Stautz, a multiple felon, had served time in prison.

The three individuals refused to exit the residence and barricaded themselves inside. After a brief standoff, the trio surrendered. A search of the house revealed salable quantities of heroin, methamphetamine, and paraphernalia.

It was even one Marshals agent who spotted a brush fire at 16th and Fir in a wash and ran to apprehend two kids playing with fireworks.

Operation Independence involved approximately 30 law enforcement officers from 9 contributing agencies including the U.S. Marshall's and YCSO. The local police agencies involved were from Jerome, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Cottonwood, Camp Verde Marshall's Office, Sedona, and the Yavapai Apache Indian Tribe.

The United States Marshals Service is the nation's oldest federal law enforcement agency. Annually, U.S. Marshals arrest more than 50 percent of all federal fugitives and serve more federal warrants than all other federal agencies combined. For more information on USMS Fifteen Most Wanted fugitives and USMS Major Cases, go to

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