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Transnational Gangs
06/24/2009

46 street gang members and associates arrested in New Jersey-wide operation

ICE works with local law enforcement agencies to make arrests

NEWARK, N.J. - Forty-six gang members and associates were arrested as a result of a statewide public safety initiative in New Jersey led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Investigation in Newark. The operation ended June 20. Each of those arrested were targeted for their membership, participation or association with violent street gangs.

The success of the operation dubbed "Community Shield" was the result of an extensive collaborative effort between ICE Gang Investigation Group special agents and law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

Participating in the operation were the Union City Police Department, Morris County Park Police, Bound Brook Police Department, Red Bank Police Department, Long Branch Police Department, West New York Police Department, Somerset County Prosecutor's Office and Hudson County Prosecutor's Office.

"ICE has unique immigration and customs law enforcement authorities which complement the authorities of our federal, state and local partners," said Peter T. Edge, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Newark. "ICE is determined to remove dangerous gang members and their associates from our streets, making our communities a safer place to work and live."

Of those arrested, forty-two were gang members and four were gang associates. Of the 46 individuals, 15 were arrested on state charges. It was determined that 33 of the 46 are illegally present in the United States and will face removal proceedings.

Those arrested are members of the MS-13, Sureno 13, DDP, Trinitarios, Gran Familia Mexicana, Los Pitufos and Bloods street gangs. Those arrested were from El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Philippines, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. Three cases will be presented for federal prosecution. One firearm and numerous items of gang paraphernalia were seized.

Among those arrested were:

  • Javier Castro, 24, a member of the MS-13 street gang, who was charged under New Jersey law for aggravated assault and possession of a weapon.
  • Moises Cabrera, 19, a member of the Trinitario street gang, who was charged under New Jersey law for Theft of property.
  • Christian Garro-Chavez, 25, who was arrested for being unlawfully present in the United States, but was wanted in Costa Rica for murder/manslaughter and sexual abuse of a child.
  • Israel Nocelotl, 20, member of the Los Pitufos street gang, who was arrested for aggravated assault and being unlawfully present in the United States.
  • Mario Onorio, 22, member of the Los Pitufos street gang, was arrested for an outstanding NCIC warrant for aggravated assault and being unlawfully present in the United States.

"The Union City Police Department is very happy with our long-term, ongoing working relationship with ICE, which has resulted in the apprehension and removal of many criminal street gang members who are in our community illegally," said Captain Brian Barrett, Investigative Division commander. "We look forward to many more cooperative operations with ICE in the future."

"We appreciate ICE's cooperation and effort and their assistance in ridding our small town of this national problem," said Lieutenant Kevin Rivenbark, Bound Brook Police Department. "Gangs are a growing problem in the state and our small town."

About Operation Community Shield

Since ICE began Operation Community Shield in February 2005, more than 12,968 gang members belonging to hundreds of different gangs have been arrested. A total of 2,319 MS-13 gang members and associates have been arrested. Of those, 5,029 have violent criminal histories and 4,953 have criminal violations.

More information on Operation Community Shield is available at: www.ice.gov.

Under this initiative, ICE works to:

  • Identify violent gangs and develop intelligence on their members, associates and organizations.
  • Deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations by tracing and seizing their cash, weapons and other assets.
  • Criminally prosecute or remove gang members from the United States.
  • Partner with other law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level, both in the United States and abroad to develop a "force multiplier" effect in investigations and other law enforcement actions against gangs.
  • Conduct outreach efforts to boost public awareness about the fight against violent gangs.

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.