TAMPA, Fla. - Over the last seven months, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and other state and local officers participating in Region Four of the Florida Gang Reduction Task Force have arrested more than 70 gang members.
Region Four of the Florida Gang Reduction Task Force is a multi-agency team comprised of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Hernando, Citrus, Sumter and Hardee counties, as well as the Florida Highway Patrol, ICE and the U.S. Marshals Service.
"The public needs to rest assured that ICE and our partner agencies are out there identifying and apprehending gang-members and making sure they are held accountable for their unlawful actions," said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Tampa. "The people who belong to these barbaric groups who are dedicated to committing heinous crimes will not go unpunished and we will continue to leave no rock unturned to ensure that law-abiding citizens are safe."
Law enforcement officials targeted specific individuals for arrest in a combined effort known as "Operation Boomerang-We'll Be Back."
As a result, members from the various agencies were able to make criminal cases on 70 gang or associated gang members. Active investigations yielded 240 felony drug and property related charges.
Task force members also seized two kilograms of cocaine, 156 pounds of marijuana, and 582 grams of crystal methamphetamine, eight firearms and approximately $60,000 worth of cash and vehicles.
Operation Boomerang encompassed members from the following criminal street gangs: 32nd Street, 34th Street (Tre Four), 82nd Street, Bloods, Draks, Goyams, Latin Kings, Latin Life, Los Ventisiete, Los Zetas, Netas, Norte 14, PV Boys, Raw Dawgz, Sur 13, Westside and Young Godz.
"The criminal element will soon realize the collective effort being put forth by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies is a force to be reckoned with," said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee, chairman of Region Four of the task force.
In October 2007, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum created the Florida Gang Reduction Task Force in order to reduce the gangs and gang violence in Florida. The goal of this task force is to stop the growth of criminal street gangs in Florida, reduce the number of gangs and gang members, and render gangs ineffectual. To meet these goals, and accomplish this mission, the task force is built on a three-pillar approach: gang prevention, law enforcement and rehabilitation and re-entry programs.
ICE's Operation Community Shield is an ongoing national initiative in which ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to address the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs. Partnerships with local law enforcement agencies are essential to the success of the initiative, and they help further ensure officer safety during the operations.
Since ICE began Operation Community Shield in February 2005, more than 11,800 gang members belonging to more than 700 different gangs have been arrested nationwide.
The public is encouraged to report suspicious activity by calling ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423.