Florida: hundreds arrested in ICE “gang” sweeps

Between June 18 and July 25, ICE arrested 321 people in South Florida, in what it called “an operation targeting trans-national and violent criminal street gangs,” part of a national ICE initiative known as “Operation Community Shield.” By ICE’s own count, only 59 of the 321 people arrested in the sweeps were “transnational gang members and associates.” According to ICE, 19 people were arrested on immigration charges—at least some of them legal permanent residents whose criminal convictions allegedly make them deportable—and 308 people “face multiple criminal charges including state racketeering influenced and corrupt organizations (RICO) conspiracy; drug possession, purchase and trafficking; firearms possession; outstanding bench warrants; and probation and parole violations.” Those arrested are from Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Jamaica, El Salvador, Colombia, Chile, and the US. One individual was identified as having reentered the US after having been deported.

ICE was assisted in the operation by the Air and Marine branch of US Customs and Border Protection; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Florida Department of Probation; and the gang investigation units of the sheriff’s offices of Broward and Palm Beach counties and the police departments of Miami Dade, City of Miami, North Miami Beach, Miami Beach, Hialeah, Lake Worth and Boynton Beach. (ICE news release, Aug. 7)

In an operation that began during the week of July 28 and ended on Aug. 7, ICE arrested 54 more immigrants in the Miami area. According to ICE, 29 of those arrested were legal permanent residents whose “criminal backgrounds” make them eligible for deportation. The others were present in the US in violation of immigration rules. ICE identified 10 of those arrested as “sexual predators.” Those arrested were from countries including Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela, Cuba, Peru, Bahamas, Mexico, El Salvador, France, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Guyana. (ICE news release, Aug. 8)

In a five-day operation ending Aug. 1, ICE Florida Fugitive operations teams arrested 62 immigrants in Lee County, in the Fort Myers area of southwestern Florida. The operation was carried out jointly with the sheriff’s office of Lee and Collier counties. According to ICE, 55 of those arrested were “fugitives” who had failed to comply with deportation orders; the other seven were present in the US in violation of immigration rules. ICE said those arrested included 15 people with criminal histories and six gang members. The arrested immigrants were from Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Peru, Mexico, Jamaica, Argentina, Bahamas and Russia. (ICE news release, Aug. 4)

From Immigration News Briefs, Aug. 16

See our last post on the politics of immigration.