Southern W.Va. law enforcement conduct sex offender operation - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Southern W.Va. law enforcement conduct sex offender operation

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BECKLEY, WV -

What police called Operation Lump of Coal found 54 sex offenders out of compliance with sex offender registry laws in southern counties.

A major four day law enforcement blitz found more than 317 registered sex offenders currently residing in five southern West Virginia counties found 54 offenders out of compliance, according to U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, U.S. Marshal John D. Foster and West Virginia State Police Capt. Brad Mankins.

Those counties included Mercer, McDowell, Monroe, Summers and Wyoming.

The initiative is a multi-agency law enforcement effort targeting registered sex offenders to determine individual compliance with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Led by the U.S. Marshals Service's Cops United Felony Fugitive Enforcement Division, the operation targeted the 317 registered offenders and found 263 of them to be in compliance. The checks were conducted on Dec. 9 through 12.

"Registering as a sex offender is not optional," said Goodwin. "It's not something that offenders can simply put on the back burner or casually get around to completing whenever they feel like it."

Goodwin said his office has made it a top priority to find those violating the law.

"If you are out of compliance, we will track you down and we will bring you to justice," he said.

The U.S. Marshals Service said they are also committed to tracking down the fugitives.

"One registered sex offender out of compliance is one too many," Foster said.

  In August, a similar law enforcement sweep known as Operation Coal Dust was initiated in Boone, Lincoln and Logan counties. Operation Coal Dust conducted compliance checks on 209 registered sex offenders and found a total of 10 individuals out of compliance. 

In December 2012, a compliance sweep dubbed Operation River Cities, aimed at Cabell, Mingo and Wayne counties; netted 18 arrests after nearly 300 checks were conducted. 

As a result of the three regional operations, a combined total of more than 1000 offender compliance checks have been made.  

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act is part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-248). SORNA provides a comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification in the United States.