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Transnational Gangs
09/11/2009

ICE works with local law enforcement to arrest 23 gang members in Northern Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Twenty men, two women and one juvenile with ties to the violent gangs Sureno-13, La Quemada, MS 13, Brown Pride 13, Southside Locotes, Lejion Negra (Mexico) and Judas 13 (Mexico) are facing deportation following a four-day enforcement operation involving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and several local law enforcement agencies.

The arrests were made as part of an ongoing initiative by ICE's National Gang Unit dubbed Operation Community Shield. As part of the initiative, ICE partners with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the country to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs.

This operation was spearheaded by ICE and worked jointly with the Pelham Police Department, the Hoover Police Department, the Decatur Police Department, the Alabaster Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.

Eighteen men were transported to the Dekalb Jail in Fort Payne, Ala., and three were released pending their hearing before an immigration judge. One man is currently facing state charges in the Decatur Jail and another man, turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service, is facing federal weapon charges.

"Street gangs account for a significant amount of crime nationally and locally," said Jesse Blakeman, resident agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Birmingham. "ICE works closely with our local law enforcement partners to identify, locate and arrest these gang members to thwart criminal activity in our communities. Ultimately, ICE deports these gang members."

Since Operation Community Shield began in February 2005, ICE agents nationwide have arrested more than 14,000 gang members and associates linked to more than 900 different gangs. More than 5,000 were arrested on criminal violations.

ICE's 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.

More information on the National Gang Unit at ICE is available at: www.ice.gov/national-gang-unit.

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