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Transnational Gangs
07/17/2008

ICE, Tulsa-area law enforcement arrest 45 gang members, immigration violators

6-day operation was part of ICE's "Operation Community Shield"

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TULSA, Okla. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Thursday announced the arrest of 45 gang members, gang associates and immigration violators during this latest six-day local effort of an ongoing national ICE program called "Operation Community Shield."

The operation began Friday and ended Wednesday night. Fifteen of those arrested are transnational gang members who are aliens and will be processed for deportation following any pending criminal charges against them. Thirteen of those arrested have no known gang affiliation but are deportable due to their criminal convictions or because they are in the U.S. illegally. Another 17 U.S. citizen gang members were also arrested on state warrants or criminal charges during the operation.

The following law enforcement agencies assisted with this operation: Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, Tulsa Police Department, Oklahoma's Alcohol Beverage Law Enforcement Commission (ABLE), and the FBI.

Each of the 32 gang members arrested during this operation was associated with one of the following violent street gangs: Bloods, East Side Longos, Hoover Crips, Juaritos, Latin Kings, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), and Surenos.

Three gang members were arrested during the planning phase of the operation based on outstanding state arrest warrants. Aggravated felons accounted for 17 of the arrests. Following are some of the criminal convictions or charges from those arrested during this operation: murder, armed robbery, felon possessing a firearm, weapons charges, accessory to a murder, various drug charges, shooting with intent to kill, assault with a deadly weapon, and re-entering the U.S. after being deported. The U.S. citizen gang members were immediately turned over to local law enforcement to answer for state warrants against them. ICE placed detainers on two alien gang members now in state custody so that if they're released for any reason, they'll be transferred to ICE.

In addition to those arrested, the following items were also seized: 11 handguns, $2,100 cash, an ounce of cocaine and 0.3 ounces of crystal methamphetamine.

ICE will present some of the aliens' cases to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Oklahoma, for federal prosecution.

Of the non-U.S. citizens arrested, 26 are from Mexico, one from Nigeria and one from El Salvador. Following any judicial proceedings and sentences, all will be returned to their countries of origin.

"ICE has unique immigration and customs law enforcement authorities which complement the authorities of our federal, state and local partners," said James Delia, resident agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Oklahoma City. "Together, we can effectively remove dangerous gang members and associates from the streets to make our communities safer. Local law enforcement agencies act as significant partners in these anti-gang operations."

About Operation Community Shield
Operation Community Shield is a national law enforcement initiative that partners ICE with other federal, state and local law enforcement, combining resources, authorities and expertise in an effort to target members of violent street gangs. Since ICE began Operation Community Shield in February 2005, more than 8,000 gang members belonging to more than 700 different gangs have been arrested. More information on Operation Community Shield is available at: www.ice.gov.

Under this initiative, ICE works to:

  • Identify violent gangs and develop intelligence on their members, associates and organizations.
  • Deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations by tracing and seizing their cash, weapons and other assets
  • Criminally prosecute or remove gang members from the United States.
  • Partner with other law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level - both in the United States and abroad - to develop a "force multiplier" effect in investigations and other law enforcement actions against gangs.
  • Conduct outreach efforts to boost public awareness about the fight against violent gangs.

The public is encouraged to report suspicious activity by calling ICE's toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock.