By John Cannon - CNHI News Service
Dec. 19, 2012 —
Representatives from several local, state and federal law enforcement agencies gathered at the Ashland Police Department Monday to report on the results of “Operation River Cities.”
The initiative, which was on Dec. 5 and 6, involved compliance-checking sex offenders in six Kentucky counties to make sure they were obeying registration laws, said Loren “Squirrel” Carl, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
The sweep covered the counties of Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup, Lawrence and Lewis counties, Carl said. A total of 176 compliance checks was conducted.
“This was a good way to get the word out that were are keeping an eye on the sex offenders in this region,” he said.
Operation River Cities resulted in three sex offenders being arrested for being noncompliant, Carl said. Those offenders weren’t residing at their registered addresses. One also was charged with having a Facebook account, which is prohibited, he said.
One registered offender was arrested for failing to appear in court on a previous charge of failing to comply with sex offender registration requirements, Carl said. Another was arrested on drug charges, another of those arrested was a fugitive from Ohio and another was arrested on an outstanding warrant unrelated to his sex offender registration requirements, he said.
Another offender was charged with violating Kentucky’s social-networking law for sex offenders by having a Facebook account, Carl said, and one other was charged with marijuana possession.
Two computers were seized during the course of the operations. The APD is conducting forensic exams on the machines and if any child pornography is found on them, additional charges will be filed against their owners, Carl said. Four weapons also were seized.
The operation also resulted in the issuance of warrants for two sex offenders, both from Boyd County, for violations of their registration requirements. Both are considered fugitives and the public’s help is being sought in locating them, Carl said. Those offenders are:
Curtis P. Tussey, 30, who’s believed to be hiding out in South Ashland. He was convicted of third-degree rape involving a 14year-old victim.
Jose EchevarriaCapote, 43, whom Carl said is believed to be hiding out in the “Little Havana” area of Miami. EchevarriaCapote was a “move-in” offender from Florida who was convicted of molesting a 12-year-old.
In addition to those arrested, three offenders are being investigated for noncompliance, and two sex offenders were located in local jails, Carl said.
Ages of sex offenders’ child victims ranged from 3 to 17, Carl said. Fourteen were 18 or older at the time they were victimized and the ages of nine victims were unknown. The ages of the offenders ranged from 21 to 78.
Nationally, about 10 percent of sex offenders are non-compliant with registration laws, and the results of Operation River Cities were in line with that figure, Carl said.
“They were pretty much what we expected,” he said.
Local and state agencies were the backbone of the effort, with support from the U.S. Marshals Service, but Carl noted federal law also empowers the Marshals Service to enforce sex offender registration laws. Also, if an offender moves from one state to another and fails to register within a set time period, it becomes a federal crime, he said.
“We want to make sure these people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. If they’re not, we’re going to put them in jail. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
Other agencies participating in Operation River Cities were the Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Greenup, Lawrence and Lewis County sheriff’s departments; the Flatwoods, Grayson, Greenup, Louisa, Raceland, Russell, South Shore, Vanceburg and Worthington police departments; Kentucky Probation & Parole and the Kentucky State Police.