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Transnational Gangs

11 arrested in Kenosha during in ICE-led operation targeting gang members

Photo of man's back with gang tattoos
Photo of man's back with gang tattoos

KENOSHA, Wis. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents here, in close partnership with local law enforcement officers, arrested 11 illegal alien gang members from Mexico. This is the latest joint local action of an ongoing national ICE effort to target foreign-born members of violent gang members.

These arrests were made Wednesday under an ongoing national ICE initiative called "Operation Community Shield," 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.

The multi-agency operation targeted foreign-born members and associates of the Sureños street gang. One of those arrested is 40-year-old Francisco Cortes-Ruiz, a self-admitted member of the Sureños-13 gang. While serving time in California's maximum security Pelican Bay State Prison for drug trafficking in 1991, Cortes-Ruiz was convicted of assaulting another prisoner with a weapon and sentenced to an additional three years in prison. He was deported to Mexico in 1996 as an aggravated felon upon his release from prison, and later illegally re-entered the United States. The U.S. Attorney's Office has accepted his case for re-entering the U.S. after being deported as an aggravated felon, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.

Two of the other arrests - Jose Garcia-Ayala, 29, and Francisco Cordero-Rodriguez, 26, - were turned over to the Kenosha County Sheriff's Office to face outstanding criminal charges. ICE placed detainers on them to ensure they will be returned to ICE for deportation after they complete their criminal proceedings.

The remaining eight aliens arrested face administrative immigration charges, and are currently in ICE custody pending their deportation. ICE does not release the names of those arrested on administrative immigration charges.

"Street gangs pose a growing public safety threat to communities throughout Wisconsin," said Brian Falvey, resident agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Milwaukee. "We will not tolerate violent gang activity in our communities. We will use all of our law enforcement tools to thwart the criminal efforts of street gangs. ICE's Operation Community Shield shows how we work with our law enforcement partners to dismantle these criminal organizations and help protect our communities."

ICE was assisted in the operation by the following local agencies: the Wisconsin Department of Justice; the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the Kenosha County Sheriff's Office; and the Kenosha Police Department.

"Street gangs wreak havoc in communities. We are proud to partner with ICE and local law enforcement to make Wisconsin streets safer," said Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.

"Gang violence is a community problem which we have faced for many years," said John Morrissey, chief of police for the City of Kenosha. "The Kenosha Police Department is committed to ridding our community of criminals, especially gang members and their associates, and we will continue to increase the pressure on these criminal enterprises by partnering with ICE to address the gang problem here. The City of Kenosha benefits greatly from the manpower, resources, expertise and special enforcement powers that ICE brings to the table. By working together we underscore our commitment to identify, target and arrest violent gang members. The message is plain and simple to all gang members: "You are not welcome in our community."

Since ICE began Operation Community Shield in February 2005, more than 11,400 gang members belonging to more than 700 different gangs have been arrested nationwide. More information on Operation Community Shield is available at: www.ice.gov.

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.