NEWARK, N.J. - Ninety-six street gang members and associates were arrested as a result of a state-wide public safety initiative in New Jersey led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Investigation in Newark. The operation ended June 21. Each of those arrested were targeted for their membership, participation or association with violent street gangs.
The success of the operation dubbed "Community Shield" was the result of an extensive collaborative effort between ICE Gang Investigation Unit special agents and multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the state including the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, West New York Police Department, Newark Police Department, New Brunswick Police Department, Passaic Police Department, Union City Police Department, Hudson County Prosecutor's Office, and Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.
Of those arrested, 76 were gang members and 20 were gang associates. A total of 76 individuals arrested are members of the MS-13, La Mugre, LA-13, DDP, Trinitarios, Mexican Mafia, Los Pitufos, Vatos Locos, Bloods and Crips street gangs. Those arrested were from El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. Three cases will be presented for federal prosecution, seven individuals were arrested on state charges and 30 were unlawfully present in the United States. Three weapons were seized, including a 9mm firearm from a convicted felon, along with gang paraphernalia.
Among those arrested were:
- Noel Ruiz, 23, a member of the La Mugre street gang, charged under New Jersey law for unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of marijuana and distribution of marijuana.
- Jeffrey Diaz, 20, a member of the Dominican's Don't Play (DDP) street gang, charged under New Jersey law for aggravated assault and attempted murder.
- Alberto Vargas, 28, a member of the Mexican Mafia gang, arrested on federal charges of being an aggravated felon who re-entered the United States after being deported.
- Julio Cesar Morgan, 35, a member of the Vatos Locos street gang, arrested on federal charges of being a felon who re-entered the United States after being deported.
- David Vargas, 27, a member of the Latin Kings street gang, arrested on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
- Delwall Herrera-Guevara, 26, a member of MS-13, charged under New Jersey law for possession of cocaine.
"The Union City Police Department is very happy with our long-term, ongoing working relationship with ICE which has resulted in the apprehension and removal of many criminal street gang members who are in our community illegally," said Captain Brian Barrett, Investigative Division Commander. "We look forward to many more cooperative operations with ICE in the future."
"Law enforcement achieves the best results when law enforcement agencies work together for the safety of the public," said Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio. "The success of this operation is proof of that fact. We were pleased to participate in this effort."
Since ICE began Operation Community Shield in February 2005, more than 8,000 gang members belonging to more than 700 different gangs have been arrested. More information on Operation Community Shield is available at: www.ice.gov.
Under this initiative, ICE works to:
- Identify violent gangs and develop intelligence on their members, associates and organizations.
- Deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations by tracing and seizing their cash, weapons and other assets
- Criminally prosecute or remove gang members from the United States.
- Partner with other law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level, both in the United States and abroad to develop a "force multiplier" effect in investigations and other law enforcement actions against gangs.
- Conduct outreach efforts to boost public awareness about the fight against violent gangs.
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.