NEW YORK - This week, the largest U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation of its kind targeting previously deported criminal aliens was carried out all over the greater New York City area. Dubbed Operation RAPID, 54 previously deported aliens with criminal records were arrested on federal arrest warrants during a four-day targeted enforcement operation.
Eighty officers and agents from ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) field office in New York City, assisted by 70 additional special agents and law enforcement officers from ICE's Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Marshals Service's New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force (RFTF), participated in the operation.
Operation RAPID (Re-enter, Arrest, Prosecute, Incarcerate, Deport), is an operation designed to target, locate and arrest previously deported criminal aliens that have subsequently returned to the United States without authorization from the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security or the Attorney General of the United States.
All 54 individuals arrested on the federal arrest warrants have been remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
The U.S. Attorney's Offices in the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York will be handling the prosecutions.
ERO officers arrested two additional foreign nationals during the operation. Both were taken into ICE custody and will be processed administratively for removal from the United States. Due to their manner of entry and their criminal histories, both are subject to immediate removal from the United States.
"This enforcement action underscores ICE's commitment to strategic, sensible immigration enforcement that enhances public safety," said ICE Director John Morton. "ICE will continue to target, arrest, and remove those who come to this country to pursue a life of crime rather than the American dream."
"These arrests vividly show how cooperation among law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels produces positive results," said Lenny DePaul, Commanding Officer, U.S. Marshals Service's New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force "We've arrested 51 previously deported criminal aliens who will now have to face justice on the crimes they've committed, and for that, our streets are safer."
Team members made arrests in the following New York counties: Bronx, Kings, New York, Orange, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester. Individuals arrested were nationals of Belize, the Bahamas, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, and St. Kitts.
Those arrested include:
- A 44-year-old from the Dominican Republic previously convicted of fraud, and receiving stolen property. At the time of the arrest, he was found to be in possession of two firearms. The U.S. Attorney's Office has accepted prosecution for violation of Title 18, United States Code (USC), Section 922(g)(1) and Title18 USC Section 922(g)(5), felon in possession of a firearm and illegal alien in possession of a firearm, respectively.
- A 39-year-old Dominican Republic national previously convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault involving a child and of sexual activity with a minor, among other crimes
- A 31-year-old from the Bahamas, previously convicted of robbery and grand theft motor vehicle, was also arrested. At the time of arrest, ERO officers encountered his 39-year-old brother and determined the he had also been previously deported from the United States following a conviction in Florida for aggravated assault with a weapon. He was also arrested.
This week's special enforcement action was a joint initiative between the ICE National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP) and the ICE Criminal Alien Program's Violent Criminal Alien Section (VCAS). The NFOP is responsible for locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives - aliens who have ignored final orders of deportation handed down by the nation's immigration courts. VCAS screens recidivist criminal aliens encountered to deter and reduce future recidivism rates of violent criminal aliens by seeking criminal prosecution. In coordination with the U.S. Attorney's Office, the VCAS prioritizes federal criminal prosecution of egregious recidivist criminal aliens for felony violations. Illegal re-entry after deportation is currently the most prosecuted federal offense nationwide.
ICE's Fugitive Operations Program is just one facet of the Department of Homeland Security's broader strategy to heighten the federal government's effectiveness at identifying and removing dangerous criminal aliens from the United States. Other initiatives that figure prominently in this effort are the Criminal Alien Program of which VCAS is a major component, Secure Communities and the agency's partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies under 287(g).