Meet the MCSO's Terrible Ten From Operation Purge

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone is leading Operation Purge
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone is leading Operation Purge Sean Holstege

Hollywood has the Magnificent Seven and the Dirty Dozen. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office now has, what, the Terrible Ten?

Amid the stack of 30,000 unserved felony arrest warrants that piled up over the years at some Fourth Avenue office, MCSO singled out 10 men for special attention.

They were caught up this summer in a showy dragnet that authorities called Operation Purge, evoking unfortunate scatological or Stalinist images. But names aside, this joint operation by the FBI, MCSO, and other local police was as widespread as it was overdue.

For years, the backlog of warrants has plagued the county. MSCO’s Fugitive Apprehension Team has worked hard to bring many suspects to justice, but it's a bit like bailing water with a beach bucket in Houston these days.
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone made the issue a cornerstone of his successful election bid and has highlighted it ever since.

So in July and August, MCSO teamed up with analysts at the FBI to identify top targets for a Valley-wide sweep. The Bureau highlighted 3,700 outstanding warrants in metro Phoenix, including 877 suspects known to still be living here.

Police arrested 130 of them and cleared another 355 who had already been jailed or died.

“Targeted individuals were wanted for homicide, sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery, and burglary,” according to an MCSO press release, which went on to explain that around 800 wanted suspects were known to have moved out of state and the locations of a further 1,600 were unknown.

“The fastest way to make communities safe is to arrest known violent criminals,” Penzone said in a prepared remark. “This is a priority for MCSO and for all local law enforcement.”

MSCO’s fugitive squad arrested 14. Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Mesa, Peoria, Gilbert, Buckeye, Paradise Valley, and Chandler police departments cooperated.

MCSO listed its top 10 fugitives, based on the size of their outstanding bonds, and a rogue’s gallery. Meet, then, Maricopa County’s Terrible Ten:

1. Arthur Fosso, wanted on child abuse charges, released on a $300,000 bond.
2. Garret Gustavus, wanted on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor on a $150,000 bond.
3. Derek Harris, wanted on drug and endangered charges on a $150,000 bond.
4. Stevin Bendowski, wanted on charges of sexual conduct with a minor on a $100,000 bond.
5. Leo Harris, wanted on charges of assault, disfigurement, fighting, and disorderly conduct on a $75,000 bond.
6. Carlos Durand, wanted on charges of sexual exploitation of a minor on a $70,000 bond.
7. David Lauricella, wanted on charges of armed robbery and conspiracy on a $50,000 bond.
8. Kevin Matthews, wanted on charges of aggravated assault and reckless intent to injure on a $50,000 bond.
9. Eldin Rekic, wanted on charges of sexual conduct with a minor on a $50,000 bond.
10. Jibran Polanco-Jimenez, wanted on charges of drive-by shooting, aggravated assault, and firing a gun inside city limits on a $50,000 bond.

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Sean Holstege is the editor of Phoenix New Times. He's been a print news reporter for 35 years. He was an investigative reporter at The Arizona Republic and the Oakland Tribune. He won a Sigma Delta Chi award for investigative reporting. He’s covered transportation, terrorism, the border, disasters, child welfare, courts, and breaking news.
Contact: Sean Holstege