SAN ANTONIO - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents here, in close partnership with local law enforcement agencies, arrested 32 street gang members and associates during a five-day operation that ended Thursday.
These are the latest arrests under an ongoing national ICE initiative called "Operation Community Shield," in which ICE works with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to address the public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs. These law enforcement partnerships help ensure officer safety during the operations and are essential to the success of the initiative.
The multi-agency operation targeted criminal gang members and gang associates in the San Antonio metropolitan area as well as Austin, Laredo and Harlingen. All 32 arrested this week were targeted for their affiliation with violent street gangs such as Hermanos Pistoleros, Latin Kings, Tango (Orejon) Sureno and Mexican Mafia, among others. Eighteen of the 23 apprehended in San Antonio were arrested on state criminal charges; seven were arrested on federal charges.
ICE agents worked with local, state and federal partners to identify and apprehend gang members and their associates. The other participating agencies in this latest operation include: San Antonio Police Department (SAPD); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas; the U.S. Marshal Service's Lone Star Fugitive Task Force (USMS); Bexar County Sheriff's Department; and Bexar County District Attorney's Office.
"Operation Community Shield has been so successful here in San Antonio because of our partnerships with other law enforcement agencies on this critical issue," said Jerry Robinette, special agent-in-charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in San Antonio. "Together we target local violent street gangs and remove dangerous criminals from our communities."
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said, "Partnerships between federal, state and local police send a strong message to those who engage in violent crime and destroy the fabric of our communities. The vast majority of our residents want to live without fear and removing this criminal gang element helps improve the quality of life for everyone."
"When any agency; whether state, local, county, or federal, conducts a "round-up," we want to be in the mix! The United States Marshals Service is committed to making our community a safer place for our children and all citizens. Putting bad people in jail is what we do. No, it's what we do best," said John Butler, Chief Deputy for U.S. Marshals Service, Western District of Texas.
"Gangs use guns to further their business; by working together we bring all the tools in the law enforcement tool box to stop their violent criminal activities," said Dewey Webb, special agent-in-charge of ATF's Office of Investigations in Houston."
The gang members arrested during this local operation have a variety of criminal convictions, including: assault with a dangerous weapon, robbery, burglary, various drug crimes and firearms violations.
The gang operation, which began Monday ended Thursday afternoon.
Nationally, ICE agents have arrested more than 8,000 members from more than 700 different gangs under Operation Community Shield. In San Antonio, ICE agents have made more than 100 arrests since the Operation Community Shield was established in February 2005.
To report suspicious activity, members of the public should call the ICE at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.