BIG SPRING, Texas - Twenty people were arrested this week during a three-day, joint anti-gang operation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Big Spring Police Department (BSPD) and Howard County Sheriff's Office that ended Wednesday.
This is the latest joint, local action of an ongoing national initiative of ICE's 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 Big Spring. Eight had outstanding arrest warrants; the others were arrested on various criminal charges. Of those arrested, 15 were active gang members or their associates of the following gangs which operated in Big Spring: Blood, Mexican Mafia, Tango Blast and Aryan Brotherhood.
"Street gangs pose a significant threat to public safety nationally and to the local residents of Big Spring," said John Chakwin, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Dallas. "Our ICE agents routinely work with local law enforcement agencies to share information and pool our resources to help remove criminals from our communities." Chakwin oversees 128 counties in north Texas and the State of Oklahoma.
"This initial operation was successful and appreciated," said Big Spring Chief of Police Lonnie Smith. "The joint effort goes to show gang members that law enforcement at all levels are committed to make our community safe for all."
"Operations such as this are very important and an effective way to impact the crime in our community," said Howard County Sheriff Stan Parker. "It is important that we work together, pool our resources, and let criminals know we will not tolerate their activity."
Following are three examples of gang members who were arrested during the latest anti-gang operation in Big Spring, Texas:
- A Mexican Mafia member was arrested on outstanding state felony warrants relating to sexual predator offenses. He had illegally removed a court-ordered ankle monitor. A gang associate was also arrested after trying to help the gang member escape.
- The leader of the Big Spring West Texas Tango Blast gang was arrested on outstanding state felony arrest warrants relating to delivering a controlled substance.
- A Mexican Mafia member was arrested on outstanding state felony warrants relating to narcotics and weapons offenses.
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 the inception of Operation Community Shield in February 2005 through Aug. 31, 2009, ICE agents working in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide have arrested more than 14,500 street gang members and associates belonging to more than 900 different gangs, and representing 5,831 criminal violations. More than 170 of those arrested were gang leaders and 2,483 were MS-13 gang members or associates.