CHARLOTTE, N.C.-Ten foreign-born gang members with ties to local violent street gangs were arrested here yesterday following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) led operation.
The operation, dubbed Community Shield, was a multi-agency effort spearheaded by ICE. Among the participating agencies were the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD); the United States Marshals Service and the North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety's Alcohol Law unit (NC-ALE).
The operation targeted foreign-born members and associates of MS-13, Surenos, Brown Pride, SUR-13 and Latin King street gangs. Those arrested were illegally present in the United States and are now in ICE custody; however, four of them, although administratively arrested, were referred to the United States Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina for possible criminal prosecution due to criminal offenses that include possession of marijuana, re-entering the United States after deportation, and possession of a firearm.
"We will continue teaming with our law enforcement partners to target those terrorizing our communities," said Joan Nash-Scavazzon, acting assistant special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Charlotte. "Through these partnerships, we will use all of our combined law enforcement tools to thwart the criminal efforts of street gangs."
Transnational gangs pose a growing public safety threat to communities throughout the country. It is estimated that there are over 900 different criminal gangs in the United States. 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. Like any street gang, these transnational gangs also have a propensity toward violence. Their members commit a myriad crimes including robbery, extortion, assault, rape and murder.
Operation Community Shield is an ongoing national initiative in which ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to address the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs. Partnerships with local law enforcement agencies are essential to the success of the initiative, and they help further ensure officer safety during the operations.
Since ICE began Operation Community Shield in February 2005, more than 11,800 gang members belonging to more than 700 different gangs have been arrested nationwide.
The public is encouraged to report suspicious activity by calling ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423.