WASHINGTON - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Wednesday the arrests of 476 gang members, associates and other criminals. Agents seized 47 firearms as part of Project Big Freeze, an intensive ICE-led law enforcement operation executed in 83 cities across the country focusing on gangs with ties to drug trafficking organizations.
Through Project Big Freeze, ICE agents worked side by side with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners in a coordinated national initiative against transnational criminal street gangs in the United States.
Transnational street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-national members and are frequently involved in 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.
Of the 476 arrests, 207 were arrested for criminal offenses and face prosecution for various federal and state crimes, including narcotics smuggling and distribution, firearms violations, identity theft, aggravated assault, obstruction, entry without inspection and re-entry after deportation. Of those arrested, 151 were U.S. citizens and 366 were foreign nationals and face deportation either now or when their criminal prosecution is complete. In addition, ICE agents arrested another 41 individuals on administrative immigration violations.
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.
Among those arrested during Project Freeze were:
- Jose Hernandez-Morales, 31, a Mexican national and member of the Latin Kings, was arrested in Chicago for re-entry of a previously removed alien. His criminal history includes murder, aggravated assault, battery, intimidation and criminal trespass. Federal criminal prosecution is pending for re-entry of a previously removed alien.
- Serhiy Hudz, 27, who is a Ukrainian national and legal permanent resident, is a member of the Warlocks outlaw motorcycle gang. He was arrested in Philadelphia for parole violations. Hudz's criminal history includes murder, possession of a controlled substance, aggravated assault, assault, theft, receiving stolen property and DUI. Hudz was placed into removal proceedings.
- Amado Arellano, 44, a U.S. citizen and member of the Mexican Mafia, was arrested in San Antonio, Texas, on state charges for parole violations. Arellano's criminal history includes charges of possession of cocaine, possession of LSD, assault with bodily injury, burglary, resisting arrest, unauthorized use of vehicle, criminal mischief and trespassing. Arellano faces state criminal prosecution.
Nearly 50 percent of those arrested during this operation were members or associates of gangs with ties to drug trafficking organizations in Mexico, South America and Asia.
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 16,144 street gang members and associates. Of those arrested, 202 were gang leaders and 2,898 were MS-13 gang members or associates. Through this initiative, ICE has seized 949 firearms. To date, of those arrested, 6,805 have been charged criminally, and 9,339 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.