ICE “anti-gang” raids sweep US

On Aug. 28, 29 and 30, ICE agents swept through the greater Boston area, arresting 36 immigrants the agency claims are members or associates of the MS-13 street gang. ICE said the raids were part of ICE’s national anti-gang initiative, Operation Community Shield, launched in 2005. Most of the arrests were made in Chelsea, East Boston, Everett, Lynn, Revere and Somerville. Those arrested come from El Salvador, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The Boston Globe cited Matthew Etre, deputy special agent in charge of ICE investigations in Boston, saying that 20 of the 36 immigrants arrested had criminal convictions, and another 14 were facing criminal charges or outstanding warrants. But ICE’s own news release reported that of the 36 arrested, 27 had merely entered the US without inspection, four were lawful permanent residents with criminal convictions that make them subject to removal, two had re-entered the US after having been deported, two had final orders of removal from an immigration judge, and one was arrested on a state warrant. Etre said none of the detainees were charged criminally in connection with the raids. Two of those detained on civil immigration violations were minors who were released to their parents’ custody. (ICE news release, Aug. 31; Boston Globe, Sept. 1)

According to Etre, local authorities often partner with ICE to use the immigration status of alleged gang members as a way to get them out of the country. “When ICE gets involved, we’re using our immigration and customs authorities to make an impact where maybe local law enforcement can’t,” Etre said. (BG, Sept. 1)

In addition to the 36 people arrested in this operation, ICE said 23 other “gang members and associates” have been arrested by law enforcement agencies in conjunction with ICE since the beginning of August in the Boston area. ICE was assisted in the operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the US Attorney’s Office, the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, Boston Police Department, Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Police, Massachusetts State Police and the police departments of Chelsea, Everett, Lynn, Revere and Somerville. (ICE news release, Aug. 31)

Chicago, North Carolina, Oklahoma

From Aug. 26 to 29, ICE agents arrested 58 Mexican men in Chicago’s northern and northwest suburbs. According to ICE, those arrested have ties to “violent street gangs such as the Latin Kings, Sureno-13s, and the Latin Lovers, among others.” Of the 58 people arrested, 37 are out-of-status immigrants and 21 are US permanent residents whose criminal convictions make them eligible for deportation. Six of those arrested had active warrants for their arrest and will be turned over to local authorities to face criminal charges. After those charges are resolved, they will be transferred back to ICE for deportation. Three of those arrested are being presented to the US Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution for re-entering the US after having already been deported, which is a felony. The US Marshals Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force, Lake County Sheriff’s Department, and the Waukegan and Mundelein police departments assisted ICE in the raids. (ICE news release, Aug. 30)

In the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 7, ICE agents and officers from the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office raided homes in the towns of Burlington and Graham and in rural areas of Alamance County, North Carolina, arresting at least 19 suspected members of Sureno 13 and other gangs. Officers had expected to arrest only 11 people, but at least seven more suspects turned up at homes in Burlington, according to sheriff’s spokesperson Randy Jones. Three other people were arrested during the operation who had nothing to do with suspected gang activity, said Jones. No charges have been filed against any of those arrested.

The operation was spearheaded by the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, with support from North Carolina Probation and Parole and the Gibsonville Police Department. Sheriff Terry Johnson said all those arrested are Latinos, but he insisted that the arrests were focused on reducing gang activity, not targeting those present in the US without authorization. About six months ago, the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office took on the 287(g) program, a partnership with the Department of Homeland Security that trains and authorizes local law officers to enforce federal immigration law. Before the latest arrests, the sheriff’s Alamance County Gang Unit had processed 21 other alleged gang members for deportation. (News 14 Carolina, Raleigh, Sept. 7; Burlington Times News, Sept. 7)

From Aug. 27 to Sept. 2, ICE agents acting in partnership with other federal and local law enforcement agencies arrested 65 people in a sweep targeting members of street gangs in the Oklahoma City area. Those arrested were from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Iraq and Mexico. Three US citizens were arrested by local law enforcement agencies during the operation. ICE described 42 of those arrested as “known members of local street gangs”; 15 of those arrested had active warrants or were arrested on state charges. Some cases are being presented to the US Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution for re-entering the US after having already been deported. Three immigrants with no previous criminal convictions who were picked up in the sweep were voluntarily returned to Mexico. Agencies participating in the operation included the US Attorney’s Office, Western District of Oklahoma; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Oklahoma Highway Patrol; Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office; Oklahoma City Police Department; and Oklahoma Department of Corrections. (ICE news
release, Sept. 4)

From Immigration News Briefs, Sept. 9

See our last post on the immigration crackdown.