In the city that never sleeps, at 1:30 a.m. on September 11, 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Supervisory Detention and Deportation Officer (SDDO) Thomas "Tommy" Kilbride is wide awake as he briefs the fugitive task force members gathered at the U.S. Marshals Manhattan headquarters. ICE is one of the hundreds of federal, state and local agencies in the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force given the unique authority to track fugitives across all borders and around the world.
SDDO Kilbride prepares the team for their latest manhunt beginning with, "How yous doing?" revealing his Brooklyn roots. Kilbride lays out the setting, the stage and the roles each task force member will play in a stakeout to catch a Dominican national with a criminal history, including illegal reentry into the United States where he now works at a trendy upper Manhattan nightclub.
Two task force officers will linger in the park as if they're homeless, two will enter a nightclub as partygoers, two will keep a look out at the subway and others will be conducting surveillance, watching and waiting outside the nightclub.
At 4:27 a.m. an unexpected brawl breaks out in front of the nightclub. The task force members quietly talk about breaking up the melee. Yet, just a minute or even a second of ill timing or misjudgment can foil an entire operation. SDDO Kilbride's instincts and experience as a 19-year veteran of ICE/U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), a retired U.S. Marine and a former Customs and Border Patrol agent give him the intuitive sense to order the task force to stand down. The patience pays off. The ruckus ends and Martes, surrounded by eight cohorts, exits the nightclub. That's when the task force moves in.
By 4:30 a.m., the task force has 36-year-old Jorge Martes leaning against a vehicle and handcuffed. Besides being an illegal alien residing in the U.S., Martes was wanted on firearms and drug charges, as well as assaulting a police officer. His serious and violent offenses warrant him a top three billing in ICE's priority list of fugitives to target and arrest. The first two priority fugitives, according to ICE, are those who pose a threat to national security or a threat to the community.
This entire law enforcement operation will be aired on the A&E network in "Manhunters: Fugitive Task Force," a reality show, in a series of episodes that begins Jan. 14. A film crew captures on film the federal New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force in action as they hunt and apprehend dangerous fugitives. "Manhunters" shows the public that "our focus is on the most egregious felons who threaten society," said SDDO Kilbride.
The relationship between the U.S. Marshals' Fugitive Task Force in New York City and ICE's legacy agency, INS, dates back to 1996. Together they have arrested thousands of New York's most violent egregious fugitives.
"If you are a criminal alien, get deported and illegally return to New York City, look out," says SDDO Kilbride, "ICE and the U.S. Marshals Task Force will find you, arrest you, prosecute you, put you in prison and then deport you again from the U.S."
The National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP) of ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations is the clearing-house for fugitive cases and refers leads to ICE Fugitive Operations Teams in the field. These specially trained investigative teams are dedicated to locating and apprehending fugitives for removal from the United States, with a particular focus on targeting those who have been convicted of crimes and pose the greatest threat to public safety. For more information regarding ICE's fugitive operations, visit the NFOP page.