These arrests were made under an ongoing national initiative of the National Gang Unit at ICE called Operation Community Shield. As part of this initiative ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs. Partnerships with local law enforcement agencies are essential to the success of the initiative, and they help further ensure officer safety during the operations.
The multi-agency operation, which ended June 16, targeted foreign-born gang members and associates in the west and northwest suburbs. Ten of the 12 were arrested on administrative immigration violations and are currently in ICE custody pending removal from the U.S. All 10 are illegal aliens from Mexico who are members of the following gangs: Imperial Gangsters, Sureños-13 and Latin Kings.
Two of the 12 arrests were made by the Franklin Park Police Department with ICE's assistance. The first, a U.S. citizen with no gang affiliation, was arrested for having seven marijuana plants in his Northlake residence. He faces state felony charges for drug possession. The second, a 17-year-old illegal alien from Mexico, is an Imperial Gangsters member who was arrested in Franklin Park on misdemeanor state drug charges.
ICE also placed a detainer on an Iraqi Latin King member who was located in Cook County Jail, where he faces felony drug charges. He is a U.S. permanent resident whose previous criminal convictions make him eligible for deportation upon his release from local custody.
During the operation, ICE agents also seized a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun.
The 10 illegal alien gang members in ICE custody all have criminal histories; some of their convictions and arrests include: aggravated battery, criminal sexual assault, burglary, unlawfully possessing illegal drugs, domestic battery and mob action.
"Street gangs pose a growing public safety threat to communities throughout this area," said James Gibbons, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "We will use all our law enforcement tools to thwart criminal efforts of street gangs. Operation Community Shield shows how ICE works with our law enforcement partners to dismantle these criminal organizations and help protect our communities."
ICE was assisted in the operation by the following Illinois police departments: Arlington Heights, Franklin Park, Melrose Park, Mt. Prospect, Northlake, Palatine, Stone Park and Wheeling.
Since ICE began Operation Community Shield in February 2005, more than 13,000 gang members belonging to more than 900 different gangs have been arrested nationwide. More information on the National Gang Unit at ICE is available at: www.ice.gov.
The public is encouraged to report suspicious activity by calling ICE's toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock.