47 Fugitives Arrested in 3-Day Sweep in Anaheim

Times Staff Writer

Nearly four dozen fugitives suspected of drug and violent crimes were arrested in Anaheim during a three-day sweep by a law enforcement task force, authorities said Wednesday.

Most of the 47 arrests by nearly 60 officers from federal, state and local agencies occurred without incident, said Brian Salt, supervising U.S. deputy marshal. He said one MAC 90 assault rifle was seized.

One fugitive, Johnny Santellan, 49, ran from officers over fences and through backyards before he was found hiding under a home and apprehended. Authorities also used a helicopter and police dog in the pursuit.

Santellan was wanted on suspicion of receiving stolen property and altering vehicle identification numbers, authorities said.


Another suspect, Roberto Benitez, 36, had been sought for 10 years on drug-related charges. He was arrested at an apartment building Saturday, the last day of the sweep, which began Sept. 23.

Officers cleared up more than 700 felony arrest warrants for people with last known addresses in Anaheim, officials said.

Investigators visited more than 450 locations. The task force accomplished in three days what would have taken several months for one agency, Salt said.

Tackling the backlog of arrest warrants with a regional team of law enforcement officers was first begun in New York and Los Angeles two years ago, Salt said. Since then the tactic has spread to Atlanta, Chicago and now Orange County.


The law enforcement agencies involved in the Anaheim sweep included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; state corrections; the state Department of Justice; and Anaheim and Santa Ana police.