WICHITA, Kan. - Local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, in close partnership with the Wichita Police Department, made nine arrests Wednesday during an operation targeting violent transnational street gangs and their illegal alien gang members and associates. Eight other arrests were also made during the operation's planning phase.
This is the latest joint local action of an ongoing national ICE effort to target foreign-born gang members. These arrests were made under an ongoing national initiative of ICE's National Gang Unit called "Operation Community Shield," in which ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs. 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.
The operation targeted foreign-born gang members and associates in the Wichita metropolitan area. All those arrested are Mexican men who are illegally residing in the United States. All those arrested have been placed into administrative deportation proceedings. They are all members or associates of the following local street gangs: Kings of Destruction, Players For Life, Sureños-13, and the Vato Loco Boys.
All 17 men had criminal histories; some of their convictions and arrests include: involuntary manslaughter, assault, burglary, unlawful possession of drugs and firearms, and battery. Four of those arrested will be presented to the U.S. Attorney's Office for criminal prosecution; two for re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and two for aggravated identity theft.
"Street gangs pose a growing public safety threat to communities in the Wichita area," said Antonio Farias, resident agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Wichita. "We will use all our law enforcement tools to disrupt the criminal efforts of street gangs that terrorize our communities. We are grateful for our partnership with the Wichita Police Department to help dismantle these transnational criminal organizations."
"Operation Community Shield is a cooperative effort between ICE and the Wichita Police Department to eradicate gang criminal activities from our community," said Norman Williams, Chief of Police in Wichita. "It also conveys a message that law enforcement will work together to ensure the safety and well-being of neighborhoods throughout Wichita".
ICE was assisted in the operation by the Wichita Police Department's Gang and Felony Assault Unit, along with members of the department's SCAT teams and patrol officers.
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 seized activities.
From inception through March 31, 2009, ICE agents working in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide have arrested more than 12,500 street gang members and associates belonging to more than 900 different gangs. More than 150 of those arrested were gang leaders and 2,272 were MS-13 members or associates.