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Transnational Gangs


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30 gang members, associates arrested in Northern Virginia

WASHINGTON - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) National Gang Unit announced Monday the arrests of 30 gang members and associates. Agents seized one weapon as part of this three-day law enforcement operation executed in Northern Virginia.

Working side-by-side with more than 60 local law enforcement authorities including deputies from the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office and detectives from the Fairfax County Police Department, this is the latest local effort in an ongoing national ICE-HSI initiative to target foreign-born gang members and gang associates in Northern Virginia.

"The individuals arrested in this operation were targeted because they were gang members and were of concern to law enforcement in Northern Virginia. We use all available law enforcement tools to protect our community from known gang members," said Scot Rittenberg, deputy special agent in charge of the ICE's office of Homeland Security Investigations in Washington, D.C. "ICE will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to target and dismantle transnational gangs to rid our streets of the drugs and violence associated with the gangs."

"This operation highlights the collaborative efforts of federal and local law enforcement in combating criminal street gangs," said Sheriff Stan Barry. "These arrests will have a lasting and positive impact in our community."

Of the 30 arrests, 26 individuals were arrested on administrative immigration violations and nine were arrested for criminal offenses and face prosecution for various federal, state and local crimes including re-entry after deportation, assault, grand larceny, destruction of property and carrying a concealed weapon. Of those arrested, one was a U.S. citizen and 29 were foreign nationals. The 29 face deportation either now or when their criminal prosecution is complete.

Members and associates of MS-13, Mexican Pride and Southside Locos were arrested during this three-day multi-agency operation. Of those arrested, 10 are from Honduras, seven are from El Salvador, nine from Guatemala and three are from Mexico, and one is a U.S. citizen. One of those arrested was a woman.

Among those arrested include the following:

  • Ismael Quintana Barrera, 33, a Guatemalan national and a member of MS-13, was arrested in Falls Church for violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). His criminal history includes convictions for destruction of property, assault, larceny and disorderly conduct. Quintana Barrera has been placed in removal proceedings.
  • Juan Otero Navarro, 30, a Honduran national and a member of MS-13, was arrested in Reston for illegal re-entry after deportation. His criminal history includes convictions for carrying a concealed weapon and destruction of property. Federal criminal prosecution is pending for re-entry of a previously removed alien.
  • Jose Portillo Morales, 22, an El Salvadoran national, a legal permanent resident of the United States, and a member of MS-13, was arrested for violations of the INA. His criminal history includes felony convictions for grand larceny, credit card fraud and credit card forgery. Portillo Morales has been placed in removal proceedings.

Across the nation, trans-national street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-national members and many times are involved in a variety of crimes including human smuggling and trafficking; narcotics smuggling and distribution; identity theft and benefit fraud; money laundering and bulk cash smuggling; weapons smuggling and arms trafficking; cyber crimes; export violations; and other crimes with a nexus to the border.

Like any street gang, these transnational gangs also have a propensity toward violence. In the Northern Virginia area, gang members are most likely to commit violent crimes directed towards other gang members and engage in assault and property crimes.
The National Gang Unit at ICE 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.

Operation Community Shield partners with existing federal, state and local anti-gang efforts to share intelligence on gang organizations and their leadership, share resources and combine legal authorities to arrest, prosecute, imprison and/or deport transnational gang members.

Since inception in 2005 to date, ICE agents working in conjunction with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies nationwide have arrested 18,039 street gang members and associates. Of those arrested, 217 were gang leaders and 3,164 were MS-13 gang members or associates. Through this initiative, ICE has seized 1,224 firearms. To date, of those arrested, 8,066 have been charged criminally, and 9,973 have been charged with immigration violations and processed for removal.

To report suspicious activity, call ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423 or visit www.ice.gov.


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Last Reviewed/Updated: 10/21/2016