The men and women of the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders and Fugitive Task Force come from a variety of local law enforcement agencies. They work out of a nondescript government building near the downtown federal detention center, or in offices in Galveston and Montgomery counties. This is Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.
“The task force was created because number one, a fugitive and someone who has created incredible harm, obviously wants to flee from justice, and so the U.S. Marshals service provides us with incredible jurisdiction across the entire country. And so the fact that we got them on the hunt, makes our community safer, and makes sure that those guys don’t get a chance to re-offend.”
They are sworn in as “special deputies” that gives them the authority to cross state lines. He says their dedication allows SE Texas residents to sleep better at night.
“Using incredible technology, resources, capability, training, coordination, but it is personal and pure perseverance that makes this group work. You’re talking about the most dedicated professionals who roll out of bed at a moment’s notice, in the wee hours of the morning, that’s what let’s us sleep at night and take our safety for granted.”
Task force member Art Fernandez says even a big city like Houston is no place for criminals to hide.
“You probably would see since the task force started, there’s been a reduction in crime. You have to take into account the population growth, so it would definitely take some mathematicians. But we target the most violent offenders that are known to be repeat offenders. Guys that commit crimes, get out of jail, and often times commit crimes again.”
Erica, who didn’t want her last name used, has been a member of the force for about five years. She calls it the height of law enforcement.
“There is some sort of rush, but most of it is giving justice to the victim at that point. You finally got this guy, and he’s been on the run and now you’re bringing him to justice. So that in the sense, is the rush you get, because he’s no longer hiding. He’s gonna answer to what he did.”
Hernandez: “What makes you get up every morning to do what you do?”
Erica: “The fact that we’re getting bad guys off the street, guys that don’t want to be caught. We’re going to find them.”
Since 1993, the task force has made some 53,000 arrests that cleared over 75,000 warrants, seized more than 23,000 kg of narcotics and over $11 million dollars in currency.