SAN ANGELO, Texas Thirty-five local street gang members and their associates, who had outstanding arrest warrants against them, were arrested during a three-day joint operation between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and San Angelo Police Department (SAPD) that ended Wednesday night.
This is the latest joint local action of an ongoing national initiative of ICEs 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 street gangs, many with transnational ties.
During this operation, all of those arrested are U.S. citizens who live in San Angelo and are known gang members or gang associates with outstanding arrest warrants. Five of those arrested with outstanding warrants voluntarily turned themselves in to local authorities when they learned of the joint operation.
Of those arrested, 28 were active gang members belonging to the following gangs which operated in San Angelo: Latin Kings, South Side 25, Tangos, 18th Street, SUR13, Crips, 31st, Bloods, Surenos, Mexican Mafia, Barrio Azteca and Aryan Brotherhood.
"Street gangs pose a significant threat to public safety nationally and to the local residents of San Angelo," said John Chakwin, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Dallas. "These street gangs are best taken down through close cooperation among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, as occurred in this case." Chakwin oversees 128 counties in north Texas and the State of Oklahoma.
San Angelo Police Chief Tim Vasquez added, "Our community benefits from partnerships like this. We really appreciate the willingness of our ICE office to help us in this area. A citizen recently asked me what is being done about gangs and though I cant always share specific information for officer safety reasons, these are the type of things we are doing behind the scenes to keep our streets safe."
Following are three examples of gang members who were arrested on outstanding arrest warrants during the latest anti-gang operation in San Angelo, Texas:
- One of those arrested is a member of the Southside 25 who was wanted for a 2007 drive-by shooting as part of the ongoing battle between rival gangs. The San Angelo Police Gang Enforcement Unit actually witnessed the shooting while it was conducting surveillance of a gang members home. The gang member was indicted by a state grand jury for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and deadly conduct. He was arrested June 10.
- A Latin Kings gang member was arrested for two outstanding felony warrants relating to sexually assaulting a child.
- An associate member of the Aryan Brotherhood Crime Gang was arrested on two felony state warrants relating to aggravated assault and kidnapping for allegedly holding a woman hostage for several hours and assaulting the woman's father.
In addition to ICE and SAPD, the following agencies also participated in this operation: Tom Green County Sheriffs Office, San Angelo City Marshal's Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Border Patrol, and U.S. Marshal Service
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.