JACKSON, Miss. - During a four-day targeted enforcement operation in and around Jackson that ended Monday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrested 58 individuals, including convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and known gang members and affiliates.
Many of the criminal aliens taken into custody had prior convictions for serious or violent crimes, such as contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual assault, possessing and selling dangerous drugs, drunken driving, sexual contact and battery, and assault.
Eleven of the individuals ICE officers took into custody were immigration fugitives, aliens with outstanding orders of deportation who had failed to leave the country.
The arrests took place in the following Mississippi cities: Brandon, Pearl, Ridgeland, Canton, Carthage, Crystal Springs, Hazlehurst and Jackson.
The Ridgeland Police Department, Leake Sheriff Office and Pearl Police Department assisted ICE ERO officers with these arrests.
"This four-day ICE operation targeted criminal and fugitive aliens throughout Mississippi," said Scott L. Sutterfield, acting field office director for ICE ERO in New Orleans. "These surge operations, and our daily targeting of aliens with criminal convictions, are some of the many tools that ICE uses to effectively reduce crime at the street level in communities throughout the United States."
Of those arrested, there were 57 men and one woman. Forty are from Mexico, nine are from Guatemala, four are from Honduras, two are from Panama, one is from El Salvador, one is from Peru, and one is from Costa Rica. They range in age from 17 to 71.
Seven of those arrested had been previously deported. A conviction for felony re-entry carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
This week's enforcement action was spearheaded by ICE's fugitive operations program, which is responsible for locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives - aliens who have ignored final orders of deportation handed down by the nation's immigration courts. ICE's fugitive operations teams give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.
The officers who conducted this week's operation received substantial assistance from ICE's Fugitive Operations Support Center (FOSC) located in Williston, Vt. The FOSC conducted exhaustive database checks on the targeted cases to help ensure the viability of the leads and accuracy of the criminal histories. The FOSC was established in 2006 to improve the integrity of the data available on at large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives nationwide. Since its inception, the FOSC has forwarded more than 550,000 case leads to ICE enforcement personnel in the field.
ICE's fugitive operations program is just one facet of the Department of Homeland Security's broader strategy to heighten the federal government's effectiveness at identifying and removing dangerous criminal aliens from the United States. Other initiatives that figure prominently in this effort are the Criminal Alien Program, Secure Communities and the agency's partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies under 287(g).
Largely as a result of these initiatives, ICE last year removed more than 392,800 aliens from the United States; of that number, more than 195,700 were aliens with criminal convictions.