July 9 (UPI) — The U.S. Marshals Service has arrested 13 of the “most wanted” sex offenders in Iowa amid an initiative to combat child exploitation.
The fugitives had all been deemed non-compliant with the state’s sex offender registry and had active warrants on file when they were arrested, U.S. Marshals said in a news release Friday.
Seven of those arrested had previously been convicted for crimes against children under the age of 13 and law enforcement recovered two firearms with multiple rounds of ammunition and narcotics during the arrests, officials said.
“Much of the success of this operation can be attributed to the vigilant efforts of our community members,” said Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Phil Hartung.
“Throughout this operation, tips were received through the Iowa Sex Offender Registry’s tip line and through the United State Marshals tip line.”
Further details about those who were arrested were not immediately known. The U.S. Marshals Service said Friday that 49 people were still listed as fugitives on Iowa’s sex offender registry and the agency is offering cash rewards that lead to the arrest of anyone in a non-compliance status.
There are currently around 6,550 registered sex offenders in Iowa, though many — even those required to be on the registry for life — have successfully petitioned courts in the state to be removed, the Des Moines Register reported.
Iowa law allows judges the ability to modify the length of time a person can be listed on the registry and defense lawyers have been pushing through applications to have their clients removed in recent years, the newspaper reported.
Judges in the state granted 55 such registry removal modifications in 2018 and that number jumped to 86 in 2021, the Des Moines Register reported.
The number of petitions has grown likely as a result of two cases that were argued in Iowa Supreme Court which found that a lack of recidivism and the results of risk assessment tests should be taken into account when deciding if a person should remain in compliance with the registry.