Some of the gang members arrested during the six-hour surge that began late yesterday are facing federal or state criminal charges. Others are foreign nationals who are being processed for deportation.
Joining ICE in the operation were personnel from several federal, state and local agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service; the California Department of Justice Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement; the San Francisco Regional Office of the California Department of Justice Bureau of Investigations and Intelligence; and the Gilroy and Morgan Hill police departments.
Last night's arrests were made as part of an ongoing initiative by ICE's National Gang Unit called "Operation Community Shield." As part of the initiative, ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the country to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs.
"Street gangs pose a growing public safety threat to communities throughout this area," said Mark Wollman, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in San Francisco. "The violence and crime associated with these gangs has reached intolerable levels. ICE is working with its law enforcement partners here, and across the country, to attack and dismantle these criminal organizations."
Of the gang members taken into custody during the enforcement action, one is facing federal criminal prosecution for re-entry after deportation. A second subject is being charged with state parole violations. The remaining targets are foreign national gang members and gang associates who were arrested on administrative immigration violations and placed in removal proceedings. They will be held in ICE custody and scheduled for a deportation hearing before an immigration judge.
All of the individuals arrested during the operation have criminal histories, including prior convictions for weapons violations, domestic violence, vehicle theft and assault. The group includes a previously deported 38-year-old male Mexican national who has prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and narcotics charges.
The gang arrests occurred in five area cities - San Jose, Morgan Hill, Hollister, San Martin, and Gilroy. In addition to the arrests, authorities also recovered drug paraphernalia during the operation.
"The Gilroy Police Department appreciates the help it has received from our federal and local law enforcement partners," said Gilroy Police Chief Denise J. Turner. "These operations will continue to insure the safety of our community."
"Last night's operation again shows what we can accomplish by pooling our resources, leads and expertise," said Morgan Hill Police Chief Bruce Cumming. "As a result of our joint efforts, we've succeeded in taking several dangerous criminals off of the street and that will have a positive impact on violent crime in our community."
Since Operation Community Shield began in February 2005, ICE agents nationwide have arrested more than 13,500 gang members and associates linked to more than 900 different gangs. More than 160 of those arrested were gang leaders.
The National Gang Unit at ICE identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities.
Through Operation Community Shield, the federal government uses its powerful immigration and customs authorities in a coordinated, national campaign against criminal street gangs in the United States. 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.