The arrests were made as part of Operation Community Shield, a national initiative whereby 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 Operation Community Shield.
The multi-agency operation began April 17. Arrests were made in the following Illinois communities: Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Joliet and Melrose Park. All 22 men are documented members or associates of the following transnational street gangs: Vice Lords, Latin Kings, Latin P-Stones, Two-Sixers, and Sureño 13s.
All of those arrested have criminal histories that include arrests or convictions for a wide range of crimes committed in the United States. Some of their crimes include: aggravated battery to a peace officer, armed robbery, burglary, criminal damage to property, domestic battery, drunken driving, mob action, possessing marijuana with intent to deliver, residential burglary, unlawfully possessing a weapon by a felon, and unlawfully using a weapon.
Eighteen of the 22 gang members arrested are from Mexico, two are from Guatemala, and one is from Ghana. They range in age from 18 to 40. Two were previously deported to Mexico, of which one may face criminal prosecution for illegally re-entering the United States after being deported. They remain in ICE custody on administrative immigration charges pending deportation. In accordance with privacy policies, ICE does not release the names of those arrested on administrative immigration charges.
"Violent street gangs account for a burgeoning amount of crime in Chicago and our surrounding communities," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Chicago. "ICE works in tandem with our local law enforcement partners to identify these gang members and remove them from the streets in the name of public safety."
ICE was assisted in the operation by the following Illinois police departments: Joliet, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Glendale Heights, Melrose Park, and Montgomery.
Since Operation Community Shield began in 2005, ICE HSI special agents nationwide have arrested more than 20,000 gang members and associates linked to more than 900 different gangs. As part of this effort, HSI's National Gang Unit identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations. Transnational street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-born members and are frequently involved in human and contraband smuggling, immigration violations and other crimes with a connection to the border.
To report suspicious activity, call ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423 or visit www.ice.gov.