Photo: HSI preparing for the operation
More than 200 alleged transnational criminal street gang members and associates were arrested in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras during a 60-day enforcement operation spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Central American law enforcement.
From May 20 to July 29, HSI’s National Gang Unit, HSI’s Office of International Affairs, HSI Honduras, HSI El Salvador and HSI Guatemala executed Operation CAGE (Central America Gang Enforcement), a high impact enforcement operation to aggressively combat transnational gangs in Central America. HSI special agents and law enforcement officers from the various countries executed 221 arrests (207 gang members and 14 smuggled aliens) and seized four weapons and six vehicles.
Transnational criminal street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-national members and are frequently involved in human smuggling and trafficking; narcotics smuggling and distribution; identity theft and benefit fraud; money laundering and bulk cash smuggling; weapons smuggling and arms trafficking; cybercrimes; export violations; and other crimes with a nexus to the border.
Of the 207 gang members or associates arrested, more than 64 had violent criminal histories. Seventeen were wanted for murder and one for rape.
Seven MS-13 and thirteen 18th Street gang members were arrested in El Salvador. Eleven 18th Street gang members were arrested in Guatemala. Sixteen MS-13, sixty-four 18th Street, 81 Chirizos and 11 Ultra Fiel gang members as well as 14 smuggled aliens were arrested in Honduras during this operation.
Arrests during CAGE included:
- Angel Roberto Interiano-Calderon, aka El Capo, 29, a Salvadoran national and member of MS-13 gang arrested in San Salvador on aggravated homicide, gang affiliation and kidnapping conspiracy charges.
- Nery Leonel Reyes Carranza, 34, a Guatemalan national and member of the 18th Street gang was arrested in Guatemala City on extortion charges. The enforcement action that targeted Reyes also targeted other co-conspirators operating within the Pavoncito prison, who were responsible for extorting civilians throughout Guatemala and abroad by threats of violence and intimidation. Also seized were numerous cell phones directly linked to extortion cases, ledgers and pay-owe sheets. The cell phone seized from Reyes Carranza was directly linked to five different extortion cases.
- Adonias Joel Martinez aka Scarface and Cara Quemada, 31, a Honduran national and member of the 18th Street gang was arrested in Tegucigalpa on murder of a police officer, illegal possession of firearms, stolen vehicle and unauthorized use of police insignia. At the time of his arrest, agents and officers seized four 9mm pistols, a police radio and two stolen vehicles.