More than 150 suspects arrested in Louisiana as part of national sweep, U.S. Marshals Office says _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATT SLEDGE -- The U.S. Marshals Service announced the arrests of 151 violent offenders in its Eastern Louisiana district as the result of a national apprehension initiative Thursday.

When 28-year-old Ricky McKeel surrendered after a three-hour standoff with a SWAT team in Harvey last month, he became one of more than 8,000 fugitives arrested nationally during a wide-ranging warrant sweep led by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Federal and local officials boasted Thursday that they arrested 151 suspects in the New Orleans area since an operation dubbed “Violence Reduction 12” began Feb. 1. Those picked up included people accused of gang activity, sex offenses and crimes of violence, officials said.

New Orleans was one of 12 cities throughout the country selected by the federal government for additional attention because of what local U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite called “an above-national-average violent crime rate.”

The 151 suspects were the subject of a total of 211 warrants, marshals said, including 40 for homicide, 35 for robbery, 27 for sex offenses and 19 for weapons violations.

The New Orleans Police Department and a long list of other local agencies took part in the collars.

In true New Orleans style, officials said, the arrests ramped up only after the Carnival season ended. Despite that handicap, Polite said, the Crescent City came in second only to Washington, D.C., in the number of warrants closed.

Polite said he was not aware of any hard data to show that such warrant sweeps have a lasting effect on reducing violent crime, but the effect is felt in suspects’ neighborhoods immediately, he said.

Officials said the arrest of McKeel highlighted the dangers faced by the marshals and the local law enforcement personnel who accompany them on raids.

McKeel, a reputed member of the Harvey Hustlers gang, was wanted on a warrant for aggravated domestic assault with a firearm after deputies said he threatened a woman.

McKeel barricaded himself in the attic of a townhouse on Ravenna Street as marshals closed in on him Feb. 23. Neighbors described being alarmed when they suddenly saw deputies outside their apartments. After a tense standoff with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, McKeel surrendered.

Earlier in February, officials said, a Jefferson Parish deputy assigned to a Drug Enforcement Administration task force was shot and critically injured while serving a warrant on a suspect in a Lower 9th Ward house.

Deputy Stephen Arnold was not taking part in the marshals’ warrant sweep, but U.S. Marshals Special Agent Walter Martin said the incident underscored the risks of arresting violent people.

“Just like what happened to (Arnold), it could happen to any one of us, any time, any day,” Martin said.

Other suspects arrested during the warrant operation included Michael and Terrell Monroe, who are accused of shooting Joe Dorsey on a Central City street on Nov. 25 in an attack caught on surveillance video. The Monroe brothers were arrested by U.S. marshals in Georgia on March 7. Marshals said they also recovered drugs and a .40-caliber pistol.

The marshals also took credit for the March 9 arrest of Lionel Trumble, who had escaped from the custody of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office after a hearing in Municipal Court.