TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - From July 30 through August 3, the United States Marshals Service Arizona WANTED Violent Offender Task Force conducted Operation Southern Star VII.
This operation targeted wanted sex offenders, violent offenders, gang members and those with outstanding felony warrants throughout the Pima, Cochise, and Graham County areas.
"I'm proud to say that we were able to retrieve things to include bottles of methadone, marijuana, a number of guns, handguns, rifles and things to that nature," said Deputy U.S. Marshal LaKesha Lyles.
Operation Southern Star VII netted 53 arrests throughout southern Arizona which included 19 arrests in Cochise County, 7 arrests in Graham County, 27 arrests in Pima County.
"We targeted, aggressively targeted, a number of everything from sexual offenses to burglaries, drugs, robbery, the more violent crimes," said Deputy Lyles.
Individuals arrested included the following:
1. Dominic Blount
Dominic Blount was wanted for Homicide (First Degree Murder) in relation to a gang-related fatal shooting in midtown Tucson on July 27, 2018. The victim, Avrum Diaz, 29 was pronounced deceased from multiple gunshot wounds at an E. Speedway hookah lounge parking lot. Diaz was in the parking lot with friends when an altercation followed by gunfire ensued. On August 1, 2018, Blount was arrested at a Tucson residence without incident.
2. Jeremy Gunderson
Jeremy Gunderson was wanted for Homicide (Second Degree Murder) in relation to the fatal stabbing of Robert Ritchie, 62 in Tucson. Ritchie was found deceased in the backyard of a home in the 3900 block of East Kleindale Road. Detectives have not been able to locate his next of kin, and would like the public's assistance. On August 1, 2018, Gunderson was arrested in Tucson without incident.
3. Sean Dalka
Dalka had an arrest warrant from the Arizona Dept. of Corrections for Parole Violation. Dalka has an extensive criminal history involving weapons, threats, assault, and grand theft auto that occurred in states from California to western Texas. A location for Dakala was discovered in Lubbock, Texas, where he is suspected of also recently committing armed robberies. Deputy U.S. Marshals and other members of the Northern Texas Fugitive Task Force-Team Foxtrot, including Lubbock County Sheriff's S.W.A.T. and Air Surveillance, surrounded the address. After a 30 minute "stand-off", Dakala surrendered. A loaded rifle and a shotgun were located in the residence.
4. Antonio Rea and Sarah Weeks
Rea had and arrest warrant for Probation Violation with the underlying charges of Burglary and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. During the arrest, Weeks was found hiding in a closet and was also arrested for Probation Violation. Rea was also found hiding in a closet. Rea was found in possession of a handgun, multiple rounds of rifle and handgun ammunition, drug paraphernalia, and narcotics to include methadone. New charges are pending.
Operation Southern Star VII netted 3 homicide suspects, 3 individuals for firearms offense, 6 burglary suspects, 27 wanted for drug offenses, 2 wanted for vehicle theft, 4 wanted for aggravated assault, 2 wanted for extortion, 3 robbery suspects and 3 wanted for obstruction of justice.
Five weapons were also seized, including a submachine gun at a Tucson apartment.
"We wanted to target individuals like that, to remove dangerous drugs that they may have and to also remove dangerous weapons. As we know, a weapon like that in the possession of someone who is out to do damage, we have seen the results of that across the nation," Deputy Lyles said.
Participating law enforcement agencies included: United States Marshals Service; U.S. Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Enforcement and Removal Operations; Pima County Sheriff's Department; Pima County Adult Probation; Graham County Sheriff's Office; Graham County Adult Probation Department; Cochise County Sheriff's Office; Cochise County Adult Probation; Arizona Department of Public Safety; Arizona Department of Corrections; Benson Police Department; Bisbee Police Department; Douglas Police Department; Marana Police Department; Pima Police Department; Sierra Vista Police Department; Tohono O'Odham Police Department; and Tucson Police Department.
Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier said, "The Pima County Sheriff's Department is proud to have an excellent public safety partner in the U.S. Marshal's Service. This is an excellent example of how through collaboration and cooperation we can work together to make our communities safer."
"It's a win for us as a whole. Twenty agencies, pretty significant and I attribute that to the partnership that we have," said Deputy Lyles. "As a law enforcement agent, it is our duty and responsibility and privilege to serve the American people."