In the largest operation of its kind ever carried out in Arizona, more than 60 convicted criminal aliens and immigration fugitives have been arrested following a three-day targeted enforcement operation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
During the operation, which concluded Wednesday evening, ICE officers located and arrested 55 aliens with prior criminal convictions. In addition, 16 of the individuals ICE officers took into custody were immigration fugitives, aliens with outstanding orders of deportation who had failed to leave the country. Of those arrested during the enforcement action, at least 25 have already been removed from the United States.
At a news conference here Thursday, ICE Director John Morton announced the results of the enforcement action, which involved more than 60 ICE agents and officers, as well as personnel from the U.S. Marshals Service. Those officers fanned out across the state making arrests in Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona , Mesa, Tempe and Prescott.
“These are not people we want to see walking the streets here in Phoenix or in any other community in Arizona,” said ICE Director John Morton. “Those who come to the United States to prey upon communities in Arizona will be prosecuted for their crimes and ultimately returned to their home countries. The results of this operation demonstrate ICE’s commitment to that principle.”
Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, at least 12 of those arrested during the enforcement surge have been presented for federal prosecution for reentering the country illegally after a formal deportation. A conviction for felony re-entry carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
“We are dedicated to bringing criminals to justice all along the southwest border, and in particular we will aggressively prosecute offenders with violent criminal convictions and who pose a threat to our communities,” said Dennis Burke, U. S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. “We are pleased to stand together with our partners in Homeland Security and the Marshals Service and our state partners in the Offices of Probation and Parole to secure the southwest border through targeted enforcement strategies like today’s action.”