In May of 2013, the United States Marshal led Detroit Fugitive Apprehension Team (DFAT) netted its 15,000th arrest.
In July of 2004, U.S. Marshal Robert M. Grubbs of the Eastern District of Michigan wanted to begin partnering with local and state law enforcement as well as other federal agencies with the goal of working together to take violent offenders off the street.
“We wanted to partner with other agencies and work together to take the worst of the worst off our streets and protect southeast Michigan communities” commented Grubbs.
The goal was to pool resources, manpower and experience between participating agencies to more efficiently accomplish this task. Local, state and other federal agencies agreed and partnered with the Marshal Service to form DFAT.
Today current members of DFAT are: Michigan State Police, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, Detroit Police Department, Livonia Police Department, Sterling Heights Police, Dearborn Police Department, Hamtramck Police Department, Michigan Department of Corrections, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, CBP Air and Marine, Flint Police Department and the Michigan Air National Guard. The officers and agents from these agencies work closely with Deputy United States Marshals to accomplish the task force’s goal of arresting very dangerous fugitives.
The benefit of pooling resources, manpower and experience was evident from the beginning. In June of 2004 Timothy Berner murdered a Sterling Heights Police Officer, and DFAT worked on the case, eventually making it a United States Marshals Top 15 Most Wanted. Through an intensive manhunt, task force members worked together and tracked Berner to Jacksonville, Florida. Surrounded with no chance of escape, Berner took his own life with the officer’s gun.
“I believe it was at this point other agencies saw the benefits of what could be accomplished by working together” commented Grubbs.
DFAT has not only promoted the pooling of resources, manpower and experience, but also the use of the United States Marshals Service’s far-reaching authority to bring fugitives to justice back in Michigan.
Like DFAT, other USMS offices have begun task force operations in their states, and even in other countries. These task forces work together in an effective network to track down and arrest dangerous fugitives.
No case exemplifies the reach of USMS task forces like the one of Juan Cruz. Cruz was wanted by the Detroit Police Department for a murder in 1989. DFAT worked with the Marshals Service field office in Mexico City, Mexico. By following developing leads, DFAT arrested Cruz in May of 2012 and brought him back to Michigan to face his charges. DFAT demonstrated that you cannot seek refuge by running to another state or country.
Another example was the recent case of Rocky Marquez. Marquez switched wristbands with another inmate and was erroneously released from the Wayne County Jail in January of 2013. He fled west and DFAT worked with Marshal Service task forces in Arizona, California and Mexico. He was captured in Mexico in February 2013 and is now facing multiple charges.
DFAT is currently working on another U.S. Marshal Top 15 Most Wanted case. Corey Deshawn Gaston is wanted in Michigan by the Detroit Police Department and the U.S. Marshals for failure to appear on the original charges of rape (1st and 2nd degree criminal sexual conduct/person under 13), kidnapping, home invasion, and child enticement. He is also wanted federally for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
“With the Adam Walsh Act the Marshals Service has a very strong interest in bringing child sexual predators to justice," said Grubbs. "We captured Gaston once, I am very confident that we will be able to bring him to justice a second time.”
In all of its endeavors DFAT has become one of the region’s most productive task forces.
“You can see that since its inception in 2004, DFAT’s arrests have grown exponentially” commented Grubbs. “We have really built a model of what a task force should be. I can only see it getting larger and becoming more efficient in taking violent offenders off the streets of southeast Michigan. Our main goal is to protect our communities and to keep citizens safe.”
Detroit Fugitive Arrest Team Arrests by Year