US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested or helped arrest 489 people in “Operation Community Shield” raids announced between June 2 and July 2, targeting foreign-born alleged gang members in Kansas, Virginia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Georgia and Texas.
On July 2, ICE and the Wichita Police Department announced the arrest of 22 “transnational gang members and their associates” in Wichita, Kansas. Thirteen of the total were arrested on July 1–presumably for administrative immigration violations—and are being held in ICE custody pending removal to their countries of origin. These include three brothers, all minors with “serious juvenile criminal histories,” who were arrested with their mother and will be voluntarily returned to Mexico, according to ICE.
Nine of the gang members were arrested “during the planning phase of the operation” based on outstanding state arrest warrants and are being held in state custody on criminal charges including burglary, theft, assault, drive-by shootings, weapons violations and various misdemeanor charges. All nine are under immigration detainers so that if they’re released from state custody, they’ll be detained by ICE. All 22 people arrested are from Mexico, and allegedly are associated with the Vato Loco Boys, Sureno 13, Players for Life, and North Side Gangsters. (ICE news release, July 2)
In a three-day operation ending June 27 in the Richmond, Va., metropolitan area, ICE Gang Investigation Unit special agents arrested 20 people the agency described as “known gang members” and 21 it referred to as “identified gang associates” from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico. (In past sweeps, the agency has implied that “gang associates” may include family members cohabiting with the alleged gang members—see INB, Oct. 28, 2007) According to ICE, those arrested were affiliated with the MS-13, Sur-13, Latin Kings, and Vatos Locos street gangs. ICE said five search warrants were served and “numerous cases are being presented for federal and/or state prosecution.”
The operation involved collaboration with agencies including the Virginia State Police, Virginia Office of the Attorney General, US Attorney of the Eastern District of Virginia, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Chesterfield County Police Department, Chesterfield County Probation and Parole, United States Secret Service, Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General and the US Postal Inspection Service. (ICE news release, June 27)
In a statewide New Jersey operation carried out from June 15 through June 21, led by the ICE Office of Investigation in Newark, agents arrested 76 “gang members” and 20 “gang associates” from El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. The gang members allegedly belong to the MS-13, La Mugre, LA-13, DDP, Trinitarios, Mexican Mafia, Los Pitufos, Vatos Locos, Bloods and Crips street gangs. According to ICE, only three cases are to be presented for federal prosecution, while seven people were arrested on state charges and 30 of those arrested were merely “unlawfully present” in the US. Three weapons were seized along with what ICE described as “gang paraphernalia.” Agencies collaborating in the sweep included the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, West New York Police Department, Newark Police Department, New Brunswick Police Department, Passaic Police Department, Union City Police Department, Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, and Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. (ICE news release, June 23; The Record, Hackensack, NJ, June 24)
In a two-day operation announced June 12, ICE agents arrested, or in some cases assisted in arresting, 22 people in the area of Brockton, Mass. Those arrested included 11 “gang members and associates” and 11 other people accused of federal and/or state criminal violations, including administrative immigration violations, who were encountered during the operation. Of the 22 people arrested, 16 are US permanent residents whose criminal convictions may render them eligible for deportation, according to ICE, while five are living in the US without permission and one had a prior deportation order. The arrested immigrants are from Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Haiti. The operation was carried out in partnership with the Brockton Police Department, the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office, the US Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts, ATF, the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance, and the police departments of the Massachusetts cities of Boston, Fall River, Stoughton and Taunton. (ICE news release, June 12)
In a statewide Georgia operation culminating on June 7, ICE agents arrested or helped to arrest 127 nationals of Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala who were living in Dalton, Savannah, Albany and the Atlanta metropolitan area. Those arrested included 122 people the agency identified as gang members, and five it identified as gang associates. Seven people were to be prosecuted on federal charges of illegal re-entry after deportation, and 19 were arrested for state charges or had outstanding arrest warrants. Two weapons were seized during the operation.
Cooperating agencies included the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, the ATF, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI); the city police departments of Atlanta, Canton, Cartersville, Chamblee, Dalton, Forest Park, Gainesville, Kennesaw, Marietta, Powder Spring, Roswell, and Sandy Springs; the county police departments of Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Gwinnett County and Henry County; and the sheriff’s offices of Atkinson County, Bartow County, Cherokee County, Coffee County, Douglas County, Forsyth County, Gwinnett County, Hall County, Rockdale County, Tift County and Whitfield County. (ICE news release, June 10)
In a six-day ICE-led operation announced on June 8, 149 people were arrested in the Texas cities of Houston, Conroe, Galveston, Sugar Land, Bryan, Richmond, Beaumont and Corpus Christi. According to ICE, 67 of those arrested were “gang members and their associates,” allegedly affiliated with 22 different street gangs. Of the total 149 people arrested, 32 were US citizens arrested on outstanding warrants. The 117 non-citizens arrested in the sweep were from Belize, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Pakistan. Seven of those arrested were females. Of the 67 people who were identified as “gang members and associates,” 20 were arrested on outstanding state arrest warrants and turned over to local authorities; one was arrested on an outstanding federal drug arrest warrant. The other 46 people arrested were present in the US without permission; 28 of them are facing federal criminal charges for illegal entry or illegal re-entry after deportation.
The Air and Marine branch of US Customs and Border Protection provided air support for the operation. Other agencies assisting the operation included the Houston Police Department’s Gang Task Force and the police forces of the cities of Beaumont, Conroe, Corpus Christi, La Porte, Orange, Port Arthur and South Houston; the sheriffs’ offices of Brazos, Fort Bend, Harris, Jefferson and Montgomery counties; and US Postal Inspectors, FBI, ATF, and the US Attorney’s Offices for the Southern and Eastern Districts of Texas. (ICE news release, June 8)
From June 2 to 5, agents operating out of ICE’s office in San Antonio, Texas arrested 32 “gang members and associates,” including 23 in San Antonio and a total of nine in Austin, Laredo and Harlingen. Of the 23 detained in San Antonio, 18 were arrested on state criminal charges while seven were arrested on federal charges. Agencies participating in the operation included: San Antonio Police Department, ATF, US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, US Marshals Service’s Lone Star Fugitive Task Force, Bexar County Sheriff’s Department and Bexar County District Attorney’s Office. (ICE news release, June 6)
From Immigration News Briefs, July 5
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