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27 ARRESTED LOCALLY IN NATIONWIDE FUGITIVE ROUNDUP

A Buffalo man with a long criminal history and a warrant for attempted murder in a tavern shooting last April was among 27 local fugitives rounded up over the last 10 days by federal, state and local authorities, the U.S. Marshals Service said Thursday.

Damone Cole, 29, was tracked down at a Plymouth Street address Tuesday as part of the nationwide "Operation Falcon" roundup of fugitives.

The operation is "the largest and most successful fugitive roundup in the history of the country," the Marshals Service said. Conducted from April 4 to 10 to coincide with National Crime Victims Rights Week, it netted 10,340 fugitives nationwide.

"We have 84 task forces across the country and five regional task forces. . . . We wanted to get everyone involved all at once and pick the worst criminals and go after them," said Dan Larish, supervisory deputy U.S. marshal from the service's Buffalo office.

Cole was wanted on Erie County indictment warrants on charges of felony assault and attempted murder in connection with the shooting of man at Lolo's Bar at Genesee and Hagen streets in April 2004. He has nine past criminal convictions, including for robbery and drug sales, according to authorities.

Besides Cole, federal marshals and local police collaborated to track down Ontario "O.T." Eldridge, 19, a member of the Gangster's Disciples gang, after a nearly eight-block chase April 4 near the Bailey Avenue Market, Larish said.

Eldridge was wanted on warrants in Cheektowaga on charges of stolen property and in Buffalo on charges of reckless endangerment.

Operation Falcon targeted alleged gang members, murderers, sexual predators, drug dealers and others, authorities said. Marshals were assisted by state police and parole officers, Buffalo police, Niagara County sheriff's deputies and federal agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. attorney's office and Immigration & Customs Enforcement.

In addition to the 27 fugitives from Buffalo who were taken off the street, according to authorities, a half-dozen arrests were made in the Rochester area.

"We committed the resources just to look for these guys. . . . We just go after them. We don't have any other job but to look for fugitives," Larish said. "I'd definitely say we're safer because you're taking 27 criminals off the streets, all of whom have prior criminal records."

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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