More than 1,100 criminal gang members have been arrested in a multi-week Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation, netting transnational gang members allegedly involved in crimes like human smuggling, sex trafficking, murder, drug trafficking, and racketeering.
The five-week dragnet, led by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) resulted in the arrests of 1,133 individuals. ICE announced the conclusion of its operation, which ended last week, on Monday. In addition to the arrests, law enforcement also seized 150 firearms, over 44 pounds of narcotics, and more than $70,000 in U.S currency.
According to ICE, the operations took place in communities across the U.S., and a majority of the individuals arrested were associated with gangs like MS-13, Sureños, Norteños, Bloods, and prison-based gangs. While HSI made arrests across the U.S., the “greatest activity” occurred in Los Angeles, San Juan, Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, and El Paso.
Of the total arrests, 915 were “gang members and associates,” 1,001 were charged with crimes, and 132 were arrested for immigration violations.
While most of the gang-related arrestees were U.S. citizens, 239 foreign nationals were also taken up in the operation. The foreigners arrested, ICE said, were from 13 counties in Central America, Asia, Europe. and the Caribbean.
The enforcement effort, called Project Shadowfire, was conducted under the umbrella of Operation Community Shield, which has been underway since 2005, in which HSI has worked with local authorities to arrest gang members and their associates. Since the beginning of Operation Community Shield, HSI has made more than 40,000 so-called gang-related arrests and seized more than 8,000 firearms.
“This operation is the latest example of ICE’s ongoing efforts, begun more than a decade ago under Operation Community Shield, to target violent gang members and their associates, to eradicate the violence they inflict upon our communities and to stop the cash flow to transnational organized crime groups operating overseas,” ICE Director Sarah R. Saldana said in a statement.