Bolivia, NC – The U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force, in conjunction with various federal, state and local agencies, announce the successful conclusion of Operation Safe Neighborhood conducted this week in Brunswick and Columbus Counties.
Starting at 6:00 am Tuesday morning, approximately 60 law enforcement officers from the U.S. Marshals Service, Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, Columbus County Sheriff’s Office, and North Carolina Department of Public Safety/Division of Adult Supervision set out to verify that all registered sex offenders in those counties were in compliance with North Carolina guidelines. During the course of the operation, authorities visited the homes of 299 registered sex offenders. This operation is the first of its kind in this area of the state, and follows the successful conclusion of other such operations sponsored by the U.S. Marshals in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
In addition to verifying the compliance of the registered sex offenders, officers also arrested 12 individuals and seized eight firearms along ammunition and small quantities of narcotics. Additional charges are likely forthcoming as a result of on-going investigations.
Those arrested include:
Ricky Hunt, 45, of Clarendon – while conducting the registration verification, officers discovered evidence of new criminal activity and Hunt was subsequently arrested for Statutory Rape.
Lamoris Chestnutt, 39, of Chadbourn – arrested for Failure to Report New Address (Sex Offender) and Resisting Public Officer
Logan Williamson, 31, of Clarendon – arrested for Possession of Firearm by Felon and Alter/Remove Serial Number from Firearm.
Christopher King, 28, of Supply – arrested on multiple charges of Breaking and Entering; he was also charged with Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia at the time of his arrest.
David Darst, 42, of Southport – arrested for Manufacturing Marijuana.
On July 27, 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. This legislation is aimed at sex offenders who fail to comply with state law by moving from state to state and fail to notify the required authorities of their current location. Prior to this federal law, such sex offenders could easily move to new communities undetected, where they were less likely to be recognized and therefore more readily able to re-offend on unsuspecting victims and their families.
The U.S. Marshals Service has been tasked as the lead investigative agency to enforce the Adam Walsh Act, and has been designated three key missions: (1) to assist state, local, tribal and territorial authorities in the location and apprehension of noncompliant sex offenders; (2) to investigate violations of the criminal provisions of the Adam Walsh Act; and (3) to identify and locate displaced sex offenders resulting from a major disaster. As a result, Sex Offender Investigations Coordinators are stationed in every judicial district throughout the United States and its Territories. And in an effort to fulfill this obligation, the U.S. Marshals have developed a system of partnering with state and local agencies responsible for managing and maintaining sex offender registries, and for dealing with any such offenders who fail to obey legal obligations and restrictions applicable to them by order of the courts. Since January 2009, the Marshals have partnered with law enforcement personnel from more than 3,000 state and local agencies to coordinate and execute sex offender compliance/enforcement operations throughout the country.
“Operation Safe Neighborhood has demonstrated the dedication of the men and women of the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, Columbus County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Department of Public Safety, and U.S. Marshals,” said Scott J. Parker, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of North Carolina. “The safety of the citizens and children residing in Eastern North Carolina will remain a top priority of the U.S. Marshals and our law enforcement partners.”
“The Brunswick County Sheriff's Office is extremely grateful to the U.S. Marshals Service for their diligence in assuring that those who are registered sex offenders are in compliance with their registration terms,” said Brunswick County Sheriff John W. Ingram, V. “Operations such as this not only give the community peace of mind in knowing that the registered sex offenders who may be in their neighborhoods are being monitored and held accountable, but also that various agencies on the local, state and federal levels are playing an active role in keeping those offenders in compliance. The BCSO will continue compliance checks on the 197 registered sex offenders in Brunswick County on a monthly basis. We would like to thank the U.S. Marshals Service, the N.C. Department of Public Safety and Columbus County Sheriff's Office for their partnership during this operation.”
Columbus County Sheriff Lewis L. Hatcher stated “the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service and the N.C. Department of Public Safety, carried out Operation Safe Neighborhood on July 14 & 15, 2015. This operation ensures that those who are registered sex offenders are in compliance with their registration terms. In an effort to protect the citizens in our communities, the CCSO will continue monthly compliance checks on the 102 registered sex offenders in Columbus County. This monitoring and accountability of the offenders also demonstrates the continued efforts by the local, state and federal agencies to maintain that these offenders are in compliance. We would like to thank the U.S. Marshals Service, the N.C. Department of Public Safety, and Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance during this operation.”
“Joint enforcement operations with our local and federal law enforcement partners send a strong message to sex offenders that we are watching and they must abide by the terms of their supervision,” said W. David Guice, Commissioner of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.