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Transnational Gangs
06/30/2009

ICE-led operation arrests 116 gang members and associates

80 have gang affiliations; 3 gang members were encountered with firearms

HOUSTON - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents - working jointly with federal, state and local law enforcement officers - arrested 116 street gang members, gang associates and immigration status violators following a five-day operation which ended Friday.

The arrests were made as part of an ongoing initiative called Operation Community Shield. As part of the initiative, ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the country to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs. The gang arrests occurred in the cities of Beaumont, Corpus Christi and Houston, Texas.

"ICE uses all of the available law enforcement tools to dismantle violent street gangs," said Robert P Rutt, special agent in charge of the Office of Investigations in Houston. "ICE's Operation Community Shield is an excellent example of federal, state and local law enforcement working together to keep our communities safe."

The gang members taken into custody during the enforcement action are linked to at least 14 street gangs, including: Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), Surenos Trece, Aryan Brotherhood, Latin Kings, La Raza13, Black Disciples, Houstone, Tango Blast, Bloods and Crips to name a few. Three of those arrested possessed firearms at the time of their arrest, which included an assault rifle, a shotgun and a handgun.

Of the 116 total arrests, 80 have known gang affiliations, 60 are being charged with criminal violations; and 13 cases are being referred to the U.S. Attorney's Office for re-entry after deportation. The remaining individuals were arrested on administrative immigration violations and will be placed in deportation proceedings. They will be held in ICE custody and scheduled for a deportation hearing before an immigration judge.

Those arrested during the operation include:

  • a 38-year-old member of the 18th Street gang with convictions for manufacturing controlled substances, unlawfully carrying a weapon, theft, forgery and receiving stolen property;
  • a 31-year-old member of the Black Gangsta Disciples with convictions for possessing a controlled substance and carrying a concealed weapon;
  • and a 27-year-old member of MS-13 with two convictions for vehicle burglary, theft, inhaling and ingesting a volatile chemical and possession of a controlled substance.

Other law enforcement agencies participating in the operation included the following: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Marshals Service; Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC); Texas Department of Public Safety; Ft. Bend County Sheriff's Office; Harris County Sheriff's Office; Jim Wells County Sheriff's Office; Montgomery County Sheriff's Office; Nueces County Sheriff's Office; Victoria County Sheriff's Office; Conroe Police Department; Corpus Christi Police Department; Groves Police Department; Houston Police Department; Harris County Constable Precinct 3; Port Author Police Department; Port Neches Police Department; Victoria Police Department; and the Gulf Coast Violent Offender Task Force.

Since Operation Community Shield began in February 2005, ICE agents nationwide have arrested more than 13,000 gang members and gang associates linked to more than 900 different gangs. More than 150 of those arrested were gang leaders.

The ICE National Gang Unit 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 activities.

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. Transnational street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-born members and are frequently involved in human and contraband smuggling, immigration violations and other crimes with a connection to the border.

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