Earlier this month, a 50-person team of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel and local law enforcement officials embarked on a gang enforcement operation in the wee hours of the morning. The team was part of the Tampa Bay Multi-Agency Gang Task Force (MAGTF), and the operation focused on a local nightclub in downtown Tampa, Fla.
MAGTF members arrested seven people; five of them were illegal aliens and members of notorious transnational gangs, the Sureños and MS-13s. Of the seven individuals arrested, three will face federal charges for illegal and criminal re-entry into the United States.
"Disrupting and dismantling transnational gangs in our local communities is a top priority for ICE. It's why we are committed to working with our local law enforcement partners to combat this issue," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Tampa, Fla. "These gangs not only deal in drugs, but their members commit violent crimes and terrorize our neighborhoods."
ICE is a vital partner on the Tampa Bay MAGTF. ICE HSI agents and ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers have special authorities that allow them to criminally and administratively arrest gang members and their affiliates who are in the United States illegally. Earlier this year, ICE participated in MAGTF operations that sought out gang members at fairs and festivals in the Tampa Bay area.
Transnational criminal street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-national members and are frequently involved in human smuggling and trafficking, narcotics smuggling and distribution, identity theft, benefit fraud and more.
Like any street gang, these transnational gangs also have a propensity toward violence. Their members commit a number of violent crimes including robbery, extortion, assault, rape and murder.
Gang enforcement is part of Operation Community Shield, a global initiative, in which ICE HSI partners with existing federal, state, local, and foreign anti-gang efforts to share intelligence on criminal gang organizations and their leadership, share resources and combine legal authorities to identify, locate, arrest, prosecute, imprison and/or deport transnational gang members.