On a recent weekend, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) — in partnership with the FBI and the Secret Service — staked out an area of South Memphis in search of counterfeit merchandise and more than 1,800 fugitives.
At the end of the operation, the officers had made 48 arrests. But only 13 of those arrests were the fugitives they were actually seeking.
"We have more than 30,000 active warrants across the whole county," said SCSO spokesperson Steve Shular. "But it can be for anything from a felony to a traffic charge. If you don't show up for court, you're a fugitive."
The saturation area was bordered by Brooks Road on the north, Shelby Drive on the south, Elvis Presley on the east, and Weaver on the west. Although that area is inside the city limits, the Memphis Police Department was not involved in the crime sweep.
The SCSO fared better in finding counterfeit "knock-off" goods; four people were arrested and charged with criminal simulation of counterfeit items. Police seized knock-off clothes, other counterfeit merchandise, and more than $130,000 in cash associated with the sale of those items from the Third Street Flea Market, T.J. Beauty Super Center, the Super Beauty Store, and Beautyland.
"Anything that's a knock-off, customers will pay for down the line," Shular said. "The legitimate companies that make the merchandise are losing money by not selling those items."
Shular said the Secret Service got involved since knock-off items are occasionally associated with counterfeit money. No counterfeit cash was found, however.
Traffic police also were involved in the saturation effort, and 181 traffic tickets were written. Fifty grams of marijuana were seized, as well as one illegal pistol and $255 in cash. But many of the fugitives sought in the crime sweep are still on the loose.
"We continue to serve those warrants 24 hours a day," Shular said. "We have a team of researchers in the fugitive bureau who do nothing but verify the latest information on these people. We verify addresses and information about who might live in the home with the fugitive. If there's an older person or a child, we take that into consideration as to how we approach the situation."