At least 203 fugitives, gang members and sex offenders were among more than 8,000 people apprehended during a six-week national operation that targeted the country's most violent offenders, the U.S. Marshals Service said Wednesday.

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During Operation Violence Reduction 12, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said that "strategic and focused efforts of the U.S. Marshals Service and their law enforcement partners" managed to apprehend 500 accused murderers, 600 gang members and nearly 1,000 sex offenders.

"Fugitives initiated gun battles, forced barricaded standoffs, assaulted officers and did everything they could to evade arrest – but our Deputy Marshals, together with their law enforcement partners, stood firm and succeeded in capturing the bad guys," Yates said in a statement Wednesday.

Operation Violence Reduction 12 targeted fugitives with at least three prior felony arrests "for crimes such as murder, attempted murder, robbery, aggravated assault, arson, abduction/kidnapping, weapon offenses, sexual assault, child molestation and narcotics," officials said, adding that investigators also increased their focus on fugitives "accused of sex crimes and on the recovery of missing children," authorities said.

The operation was conducted in all 94 federal judicial districts, but special focused was placed on 12 districts, including Camden, authorities said. Of the 203 fugitive arrests made in New Jersey, 74 were apprehended in Camden

“The U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force places a high priority on fugitive cases in which there is the use or threat of violence against innocent victims. The city of Camden and other communities will not be a safe haven for those charged with such violent crimes,” Juan Mattos, U.S. Marshal for the District of New Jersey, said in a statement.

The U.S. Marshals Service said of the 74 fugitives arrested in Camden, three were homicide suspects; three were violent sex offenders and seven were documented gang members. In addition, authorities seized three firearms during the operation.

Among those arrested in Camden were Luis Torres, who was wanted for kidnapping and robbery in connection with an incident in which he held a knife to a victim in his car, drove him to several places and stabbed him repeatedly, authorities said. He took the victim's money, leaving on the street in "critical condition" the Marshals Service said. Torres was arrested without incident while leaving a bank.

Authorities also arrested Armando Perez who was wanted for an "execution style murder" that took place in September 2015. The Marshals Service said Perez "received significant assistance from his family in evading arrest."

"The investigation revealed that the suspect was living in Easton, Pennsylvania and was receiving money from relatives back in Camden. Task force members and federal marshals from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania made entry into the house and arrested Perez without incident," officials said in a statement.

Another notable New Jersey arrest, authorities said, was Juan Pagan who was wanted in connection with raping a victim at gunpoint in December of 1986. His criminal history spanned multiple states and included weapons, assault, rape and narcotics offenses. He was arrested in Bellmawr.

Toniann Antonelli can be reached at, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

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