Renewed effort to track wanted parolees nets four arrests in first few days

$495k allocated to parolee tracking plan

DENVER - Four wanted parole violators have been rounded up in the last few days as part of a renewed effort following the murders allegedly committed by Evan Ebel.

At the end of March, the Department of Corrections reported 667 absconders out of 9,490 Colorado parolees.

7NEWS obtained information about 29 of those absconders, who all have alleged gang affiliations. They were among the fugitives sought by the Department of Corrections during a series of investigations between Saturday and Wednesday.

-- View a slideshow of 25 wanted absconders with alleged gang affiliations:

According to the DOC, four of the absconders were found and arrested during the roundup: Geoffrey Sheehan, Richard Ruiz, Ronnie Lavato and James Ortega.

The roundup is an operation the DOC has done before, but it was done with renewed fervor after the March murder of DOC chief Tom Clements. The parolee suspected of killing him was Evan Ebel, an alleged member of a white supremacist gang called the 211 Crew.

Ebel set off a tamper alarm from his electronic monitoring anklet on March 14, about three days before he allegedly murdered a part-time pizza delivery man. Two days after that, Ebel allegedly rang the doorbell at Clements' home and shot him to death in the entryway.

An arrest warrant for Ebel wasn't issued until the March 20, one day after Clements was killed.

Ebel was fatally shot during a gunfight with law enforcement in Texas the next day.

A new mandate requires officers to start reacting to electronic monitor alarms after two hours.

"It wouldn't necessarily have made a difference in locating Mr. Ebel," said Parole Officer Melissa Gallardo. "What we would typically find if we respond in that timeframe is an ankle bracelet cut off."

The team that would be sent to an alarm would involve several officers wearing bullet-proof vests and non-lethal weapons, much like the team involved in the recent roundup.

"Eventually they run out of places to hide," said Parole Officer Aaron Anderson.

Although 7NEWS was allowed to witness some of the operations and obtained exclusive video of the arrest of Geoffrey Sheehan Wednesday, we were explicitly told none of the investigations we were allowed to witness involved alleged members of the 211 Crew.

Also Wednesday, state lawmakers approved $495,000 for a plan to increase efforts to monitor parolees and respond to problems with their electronic monitoring equipment.

The department already has the funds but needed permission from lawmakers to use it in next year's budget.

The extra efforts will start immediately and include the monthly fugitive roundups.

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