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Career Criminal Task Force targets most violent repeat offenders

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MESA, AZ (CBS5) -

A small group of detectives is focused on tracking down some of the Valley's most violent criminals.

Mesa's Career Criminal Task Force zeros in on repeat offenders.

"There comes a point in every criminals life where they hit a cross road. They say I want to become a better person. Or they do whatever crime they can to selfishly enhance their own needs. It doesn't matter what it is," said Mesa Police Department Assistant Chief Heston Silbert.

Jonathan Tricarico had been in and out of jail since 2007 on theft and burglary charges. He was released a little over a month ago. Friday night the 29-year-old popped back on the radar.

Mesa police spotted the ex-con in a stolen car. When officers tried to pull him over he led them on a pursuit, finally stopping at a restaurant and opening fire on police.

It was a decision that ended his life.

Assistant Chief Silbert called this a worst case scenario. But said the actions of this career criminal weren't surprising.

"You have the same people committing the same more violent and more frequent crimes," said Assistant Chief Silbert.

The 25 year law enforcement veteran created the concept of the Career Criminal Squad. It consists of 5 detectives and a sergeant. The team focuses on tracking a handful of the Valley's most violent serial criminals.

"That one criminal can drive your crime rate through the roof," said Assistant Chief Silbert.

That's something the Maricopa County Attorney's office is very familiar with.

"You have about 20% of the criminal population that is responsible for about 80 percent of the crimes. They're probably committing anywhere from 2-3 felonies a week," said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Detectives track the criminal's movements.

"We may follow them through technical surveillance, conventional surveillance, we may start researching crimes that may have been investigated before and it wasn't done as thoroughly as it could have been," said Assistant Chief Silbert.

All of this in an effort to send serial offenders back to prison.

Assistant Chief Silbert said the root of the problem often times comes back to drugs and criminals going to extremes to get money for a fix.

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