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Immigration News

158 arrested in Utah’s largest ever ICE-led Gang Enforcement Action

A total of 158 gang members and individuals with gang ties, including many with prior criminal records, are facing new criminal charges or deportation following a four-month, multi-agency anti-gang surge spearheaded by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that represents the largest operation of its kind ever carried out in the state.

Of the gang members and gang associates arrested during the enforcement action, 93 are facing prosecution on federal and state criminal charges ranging from solicitation to commit aggravated murder and forcible sexual abuse to drug and firearms violations and re-entry after deportation. A re-entry conviction is a felony that carries a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Individuals currently facing state charges will be referred for federal immigration charges once the state charges are resolved.

Among the gang members facing federal criminal charges is a 28-year-old documented member of the Surenos-Alley Boys street gang who was previously deported to Mexico in March 2006. Jose Daniel Gil-Velasco was taken into custody by ICE-HSI agents in Provo, Utah, on Aug. 6. Gil-Velasco has a lengthy criminal record, including prior convictions for aggravated assault (two counts), carrying a concealed dangerous weapon and attempted theft. Gil is charged federally with re-entry after deportation.

Also facing re-entry after deportation charges is Juan Menchaca-Poban, 26, a member of the Toonersville Rifa 13 street gang, whose criminal history includes prior arrests for retail theft and drug possession, as well as a felony conviction for distributing a controlled substance. Menchaca-Poban was taken into custody by the Salt Lake Metro Gang Unit and ICE-HSI agents in Salt Lake City on June 3. At the time of his arrest, Menchaca-Poban was wanted on an outstanding state criminal warrant for narcotics distribution. Upon completion of his state sentence, Menchaca-Poban will be presented for federal prosecution for felony re-entry after deportation.

Of the 158 gang members and gang associates arrested during the operation, 125 are foreign nationals from the following five countries: Argentina, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Peru. The group includes 31 individuals who have been previously deported from the United States. The foreign nationals who are not being prosecuted on criminal charges are being processed for removal. A number of them have already been deported to their native countries.