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Transnational Gangs

8 arrested in South Carolina gang enforcement action

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Eight associates of the Surenos 13 gang are facing new criminal charges or removal from the United States, following a joint anti-gang enforcement action Wednesday led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Columbia, the York County Sheriff's Office and the Rock Hill Police Department.

The operation took place in and around the York County/Rock Hill area in South Carolina.

The arrests were made as part of Operation Community Shield, an ongoing initiative by ICE HSI's National Gang Unit, in which the agency uses its powerful immigration and customs enforcement authorities in a coordinated strategy to attack and dismantle criminal street gangs across the country.

"Street gangs pose a threat to public safety in South Carolina," said Brock Nicholson, acting special agent in charge of the ICE HSI office in Atlanta. "With each gang member we arrest and remove from the United States, we're making a positive impact in our communities and improving public safety."

As part of the initiative, ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational gangs.

Agents and officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) also assisted in the operation.

One of the individuals arrested will face federal criminal prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of South Carolina for felony re-entry after deportation, a federal violation that carries a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison. That individual, a 32-year-old Honduran national, is also an aggravated felon with prior convictions for criminal possession of stolen property and rape.

The other seven are being processed for removal from the United States.

Since Operation Community Shield began in February 2005, ICE agents nationwide have arrested more than 18,000 gang members and gang associates. As part of the effort, ICE 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.