EL PASO, Texas - Nineteen aliens with criminal convictions were arrested last week by agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and other law enforcement partners that make up a new alliance to target border violence. The group also seized weapons and fake documents during a four-day enforcement surge that ended Saturday.
The targeted operation began Aug. 4. It was the first such operation that occurred in El Paso and was supported by the New Mexico/West Texas "Alliance to Combat Transnational Threats" (ACTT) Unified Command. ICE agents seized a .22-caliber Remington rifle, high-capacity gun magazine pouches, and police gear such as long expandable batons, ski masks, helmets and gun holsters. During the operation, agents discovered fraudulent immigration documents and Texas identification cards, and a small amount of marijuana seeds in a home in the 3500 block of Oasis Drive.
ICE officers and agents worked in teams with other federal agents from the ICE Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) U.S. Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations (OFO). As criminal aliens, the 19 who were arrested are also deportable.
ACTT was established in April 2010 as directed by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano as a response to continued violence and criminal activity in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The Unified Command (UC) was formed and initially comprised of leaders from ICE-ERO, ICE-HSI, and CBP-OFO and Border Patrol. Those agency leaders established the New Mexico/West Texas ACTT the same month, and expanded the membership to include a number of additional federal, state and local strategic partners.
In July, the New Mexico/West Texas ACTT UC began conducting intelligence-driven operations as well as sharing information with partner agencies and the government of Mexico to support its efforts to reduce violence, prevent criminal activity and increase border security.
"Working collaboratively with our ACTT partners is a tremendous benefit for the border community," said Dorothy Herrera-Niles, acting field office director of ICE ERO in El Paso. "The primary goal for New Mexico/West Texas ACTT is to disrupt and dismantle safe havens for transnational threats and transnational criminal organizations."
Herrera-Niles added that to ensure national security and public safety, ICE ERO will also continue to target criminal aliens in the El Paso area. Herrera-Niles oversees operations in west Texas and the State of New Mexico.
Among the 19 criminal aliens arrested during last week's operation were individuals with convictions for crimes such as aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, engaging in organized criminal activity, marijuana possession, drunken driving, alien smuggling and burglarizing a vehicle. ICE agents also administratively arrested three aliens on immigration violations.
All those arrested were Mexican nationals, except for one Honduran. They ranged in age from 20 to 50 years old. Of the total 22 arrested, seven were women.
ICE removed 148,717 criminal aliens from the United States so far this fiscal year, a record number. Of those 8,619 were removed from El Paso.