BOSTON - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents together with federal, state and local law enforcement partners across Massachusetts, have arrested 52 gang members and associates and 28 other criminals this week as part of the agency's Operation Community Shield initiative, which targets violent street gangs.
Transnational gangs pose a growing threat to the safety of communities in Massachusetts and throughout the country. It is estimated that there are over 900 different criminal gangs roaming U.S. streets and neighborhoods. During the Massachusetts enforcement effort this week, those arrested represent 24 different gangs, including Tiny Rascals, Bloods, Crips, 18th Street, MS-13 and the Deuce Boys among many others.
These gangs have a significant number of foreign-born members and are often involved in criminal activity. All of those arrested during this effort have criminal histories and many of them have a history of violent crime. ICE brings to the table unique and powerful law enforcement authorities to remove foreign nationals from the U.S. including illegal aliens and legal permanent residents based on their criminal history. These authorities allow ICE to team up with local law enforcement to take off the streets those who are a threat to public safety.
This four-day operation yielded arrests of 55 U.S. permanent residents who may be removable from the U.S. based upon their criminal history, 14 who were illegally residing in the U.S., two who are wanted on warrants of deportation, and three others who have re-entered the U.S. illegally after having been deported. All of the individuals have criminal records. The criminal histories of those arrested during the operation include convictions for Assault and Battery on a Police Officer, Assault and Battery Dangerous Weapon, Assault and Battery, Domestic, Larceny, Malicious Destruction of Property, Breaking and Entering, along with other firearms and narcotics offenses.
"Law enforcement operations like this should reassure the public that ICE is committed to putting public safety first. Every individual targeted as part of this operation has a criminal record," said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent-in-charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Boston. "Criminal aliens should be on notice that ICE is working closely with local law enforcement to take off the streets those who threaten the very safety of our neighborhoods."
Operation Community Shield is a national law enforcement initiative launched by ICE in 2005 that brings all of ICE's law enforcement powers to bear in the fight against violent transnational street gangs. It is part of a comprehensive approach to work with our law enforcement partners at the federal, state and local level to combat gang violence and make our communities safer.Â Just this week, ICE Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers announced that ICE has made its 10,000th arrest under Operation Community Shield since the program's inception in 2005, a significant milestone. In the Boston office ICE agents have arrested over 450 as part of this nationwide initiative.
The operation was conducted in partnership with the following law enforcement agencies: Police Departments in Attleboro, Berkley, Boston, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Dartmouth, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Methuen, New Bedford, Peabody, Randolph, Revere, Rockland, Salem, Somerville, Stoughton, Taunton and Worcester, the Bristol, Essex, Middlesex and Suffolk County Sheriff's Departments, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the United States Attorney's Office, the Department of State Office of Diplomatic Security, the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance and the Office of the Massachusetts State Auditor.
Fall River Police Chief John M. Souza stated "We appreciate the efforts of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in its efforts to remove illegal individuals with extensive criminal records from our community." The chief indicated that the Fall River Police Department coordinated and worked closely with federal agents and that this was "indicative of the ability of the agencies to work cooperatively together to achieve a common goal of public safety in our community." "This operation and ICE's research and enforcement efforts have impacted significantly and positively on our community and as a result made it a safer place." "We look forward to an ongoing continuing relationship with federal agents to further these efforts."
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis stated, "I would like to commend and thank all the law enforcement agencies on the local, state and federal level who participated in this effort. Gang related activities and those who choose to partake in them do so knowing full well the negative impact their actions can have on the neighborhoods throughout our fine city. We hope this week's arrests will call attention to our never-ending commitment to combat, suppress and prevent future gang related behavior."
ICE agents also assisted in the arrest of six other individuals on state criminal violations who were encountered during the gang operation. During this operation, state authorities also seized approximately one kilogram each of Heroin and Cocaine, as well as $7,200 in cash.
Those arrested as part of this local gang operation are foreign nationals from Barbados, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Portugal, Trinidad and Vietnam.
Since inception, ICE agents working with hundreds of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies nationwide, have arrested members and associates of more than 700 different gangs including more than 2,000 MS-13 gang members.
ICE has received thousands of names of known and suspected gang members from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as from foreign governments. This information is routinely compared with ICE's immigration and customs databases to identify and prioritize gang suspects who may be subject to ICE's legal jurisdiction.
Operation Community Shield, part of the National Gang Unit at ICE, gathers intelligence, develops sources of information to ultimately disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute violent street gang members and their organizations by employing the full range of ICE authorities and investigative tools.