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Latino Daily News

Wednesday March 2, 2011

Immigration Officials Arrest 20,000th Gang Member in Their 5-Yr Initiative

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced today the arrests of 678 gang members and associates from 133 different gangs during Project Southern Tempest, an intensive ICE HSI-led law enforcement operation executed in 168 U.S. cities targeting gangs affiliated with drug trafficking organizations (DTO).

Through Project Southern Tempest, ICE HSI agents worked side by side with 173 of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to apprehend individuals from 13 gangs affiliated with DTOs in Mexico. More than 46 percent of those arrested during this operation were members or associates of gangs with ties to DTOs.

During this operation, which started in December 2010 and culminated in February 2011, the ICE HSI-led Salt Lake City Operation Community Shield Task Force arrested the 20,000 gang member since inception of the anti-gang program in 2005.

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; cyber crimes; export violations; and other crimes with a nexus to the border.

In addition to the 678 arrests, 164 individuals were arrested for federal and/or state criminal violations, or administrative immigration violations. Of the 164, 117 were charged with criminal offenses, 46 had violent criminal histories, 47 were administrative arrests and 78 were foreign nationals. In addition to the arrests, during the operation agents seized 86 firearms, eight pounds of methamphetamine, 30 pounds of marijuana, one pound of cocaine, more than $70,000 in U.S currency and two vehicles.

Since the inception of Operation Community Shield in 2005, through Jan. 31, 2011, ICE HSI agents working in conjunction with federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies have arrested 20,373 gang members and associates. These apprehensions include 9,590 criminal arrests and 10,783 civil arrests. Of the more than 20,000 arrests, 249 of those arrested were gang leaders, 3,414 were MS-13 members or associates and 7,699 had violent criminal histories. Through this initiative, more than 1,600 firearms have been taken off the streets.

Those arrested came from 24 countries in South and Central America, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Of the total number of arrested, 776 were males and 72 were females.

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