Wyo4News Staff, [email protected] [PRESS RELEASE]
SWEETWATER COUNTY, WYOMING (June 22, 2021) — For the 12th consecutive year, deputies and detectives from Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service Sex Offender Enforcement Task Force, recently participated in a concentrated sweep of registered sex offender compliance checks throughout Sweetwater County as part of an ongoing effort in a special campaign known as “Operation Jessica.”
Last week, small teams of county deputies and detectives conducted 104 registered sex offender compliance checks across Sweetwater County including in many outlying communities such as Granger, Point of Rocks, Wamsutter and Bairoil. In each case, deputies and detectives delivered and offenders took receipt of a copy of the Wyoming Sex Offender Registration Act, a schedule of applicable fees related to their offender status and a letter detailing their individual requirements as a registered offender.
Of the total compliance checks, 96 registered offenders were verified in compliance, two were verified non- compliant, two remain under active investigation and one non-compliant registered offender was arrested.
Under state law, sex offenders (as defined by statute) must register with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) through their local sheriff’s office. A registered offender living in Sweetwater County is photographed, fingerprinted and must provide a range of information including his or her physical address, place of employment and vehicle information. Registered offenders must also notify authorities if they move or change jobs. Offenders’ photographs and biographical information are published on DCI’S website at “http://wysors.dci.wyo.gov/sor“. Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office website, at “http://sweet.wy.us“, also provides a link to the state’s registration website.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains a national sex offender registry website at “http://www.nsopw.gov“, which is referred to as the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Registry and named after Dru Kathrina Sjodin, a University of North Dakota student who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 2003 at the hands of convicted sex offender Alfonso Rodriguez, Jr.. Rodriguez was later convicted of Sjodin’s murder and sentenced to death in 2006.
While registration status is monitored and compliance checks are actually conducted year-round, officials named the annual compliance sweep “Operation Jessica” for nine-year-old Jessica Marie Lunsford, who was abducted, raped and murdered in Homosassa, Florida in 2005 by 47-year-old John Couey, a convicted sex offender who lived near Lunsford. An autopsy at the time revealed that Couey buried Jessica alive in garbage bags until she eventually suffocated to death. A Florida judge sentenced Couey to death in 2007, but he died in prison of natural causes in 2009.
The U.S. Marshals Service’s involvement with these compliance checks stems from the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, or SORNA, which is Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. SORNA requires convicted sex offenders to comply with state statutory registration requirements.
Failure to comply with registration requirements may subject offenders to state and/or federal criminal prosecution, carrying a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment. For more information about national sex offender sentencing, monitoring, apprehending, registering and tracking, please visit the DOJ’s website at “http://www.smart.gov“.