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Transnational Gangs
08/06/2008

ICE takes 10,000th violent gang member off U.S. streets

Effort shows ICE's commitment to target transnational gang violence

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, working in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement partners across the United States, have arrested the 10,000th gang member under operation Community Shield. This ongoing operation started in 2005 to curb gang violence and weed out transnational gangs gaining hold in urban and suburban U.S. cities.

Transnational gangs pose a growing public safety threat to communities throughout the country. It is estimated that there are over 900 different criminal gangs roaming U.S. streets and neighborhoods. These gangs no longer own turf in just the inner city but have spread their criminal networks throughout suburban and rural communities.

These transnational street gangs have a significant number of foreign-born members and are frequently involved in human and contraband smuggling, immigration violations and other crimes with a nexus to the border. Like any street gang, these transnational gangs also have a propensity toward violence. Their members commit myriad crimes including robbery, extortion, assault, rape and murder.

"This recent arrest, marking the 10,000th arrest under Operation Community Shield, is a significant milestone," said Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for ICE. "The violence being perpetrated by foreign-born gang members and associates is as shocking as it is pervasive. ICE is committed to using the full force of our enforcement authority to make our cities and towns safer from gang violence."

In a recent Chicago area Community Shield enforcement operation, one of the men arrested by ICE was Valentin Sierra-Martinez, a 20-year-old confirmed "Norteno-14" gang member. Sierra-Martinez is the 10,000th gang member or associate arrested by ICE as part of Operation Community Shield.

Sierra-Martinez, a Mexican national was in the U.S. illegally and has an extensive criminal background including convictions for residential burglary, domestic battery, possessing drug paraphernalia and knowingly damaging property. He remains in ICE custody pending removal to Mexico.

ICE has the unique and powerful authority to remove foreign nationals from the U.S., including illegal aliens and legal permanent residents based on their criminal history.

ICE's Operation Community Shield statistics:

  • 10,000 gang members/associates arrested
  • 3,740 for criminal violations
  • 6,548 administrative immigration violations
  • 138 clique leaders arrested
  • 4,074 with violent criminal histories
  • 383 guns seized

Since inception, ICE agents working with hundreds of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide, have arrested members and associates of more than 700 different gangs including more than 2,000 MS-13 gang members.

ICE has received thousands of names of known and suspected gang members from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as from foreign governments. This information is routinely compared with ICE's immigration and customs databases to identify and prioritize gang suspects who may be subject to ICE's legal jurisdiction.

Operation Community Shield, part of the National Gang Unit at ICE gathers intelligence, develops sources of information to ultimately disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute violent street gang members and their organizations by employing the full range of ICE authorities and investigative tools.