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Transnational Gangs
05/14/2010

Assault rifles and drugs seized in Detroit following search warrant

Three AK-47s and other rifles seized

DETROIT - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Wayne County Sheriff's Office announced Friday the seizure of nine weapons, 70 grams of cocaine and 145 grams of high-potency marijuana, including 150 marijuana plants as part of a suspected drug-growing operation.

The seizure occurred late Thursday as Wayne County Sheriff's Office deputies executed a local search warrant in southwest Detroit at the residence of a suspected Latin Count gang associate. ICE agents, Detroit Police officers and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents executed the search warrant. This operation was part of Operation Community Shield, an ICE initiative to target transnational gang members and their criminal operations.

A suspect who was in the home is in custody as charges are pending.

Seized during the operation were six fully loaded rifles, three handguns, and three AK-47 semi automatic assault rifles (a .22 caliber, a .9 mm, a .45 caliber), one of which was outfitted with a 100-round drum magazine which has been confirmed stolen, and three additional high-powered rifles. Agents also seized eight boxes of merchandise stolen earlier this week from a local retailer.

"Every ICE special agent carries the statutory authority to enforce the criminal and administrative laws of the United States as they pertain to both customs- and immigration-related offenses," said Brian M. Moskowitz, ICE special agent in charge Michigan and Ohio. "These are powerful tools in the fight against organized criminal groups and especially gangs in Detroit."

Transnational street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-national members and are frequently involved in human smuggling and trafficking, narcotics smuggling and distribution, identity theft and benefit fraud, money laundering and bulk cash smuggling, weapons smuggling and arms trafficking, cyber crimes, export violations, and other crimes with a nexus to the border.

The National Gang Unit at ICE identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on gang members and associates, gang criminal activities and international movements. NGU's goal is to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities.

Operation Community Shield partners with existing federal, state and local anti-gang efforts to share intelligence on gang organizations and their leadership, share resources and combine legal authorities to arrest, prosecute, imprison and/or deport transnational gang members.

Since inception in 2005 to date, ICE agents working in conjunction with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies nationwide have arrested more than 16,000 street gang members and associates. Almost 40 percent of those arrested had a violent criminal history. More than 200 of those arrested were gang leaders and more than 2,800 were MS-13 gang members or associates. Through this initiative nationally, ICE has seized 949 firearms. To date, of those arrested, more than 6,800 have been charged criminally, and more than 9,000 have been charged with immigration violations and processed for removal.

This effort was also conducted as part of the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative (CAGI) which was launched in 2006, by the Department of Justice. The program is a comprehensive approach to address gang crime. Detroit was named a CAGI Site in 2009 and encompasses funding for law enforcement, prevention and state and federal re-entry task force programs. Participating agencies in this operation included: the Wayne County Sheriffs Office, Detroit Police Department and the ATF.

To report suspicious activity, call ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423 or visit http://www.ice.gov.