SAN ANGELO, Texas - Forty-seven people were arrested this week during a three-day joint anti-gang operation which included U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the following local law enforcement agencies: San Angelo Police Department, the San Angelo City Marshals Office, and Tom Green County Sheriff's Department.
This is the latest joint local action of an ongoing national initiative of ICE's National Gang Unit called "Operation Community Shield," in which ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target the significant public-safety threat posed by street gangs, many with transnational ties.
The primary focus of this operation was to target fugitive gang members, especially in neighborhoods that have had significant increase in gang criminal activity. All of those arrested are U.S. citizens who live in San Angelo and who were wanted on outstanding local and state warrants. Of the 47 arrested, 33 were active gang members or associates of the following gangs: 31st Street, Aryan Brotherhood, Aryan Circle, Crips, Darkside Locos, Latin Kings, Southside 25, Texas Syndicate and West Texas Tango Blast.
During this operation, special agents and officers arrested an Aryan Brotherhood gang member who was the number-one most wanted fugitive by San Angelo Police Department. He was arrested while trying to dispose of a laptop computer that had been stolen from a local church. In addition to the stolen laptop, he was arrested on several state felony arrest warrants.
"Street gangs pose a significant threat to public safety nationally and to the local residents of San Angelo," said John Chakwin, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Dallas. "Our ICE agents routinely work with local law enforcement agencies to share information and pool our resources to help remove criminals from our communities." Chakwin oversees 128 counties in north Texas and the State of Oklahoma.
"Joint collaborations like this are great for our community," said San Angelo Police Chief Tim Vasquez. "Our joint gang task force has produced continuous good results. I am very proud of all the officers involved. They are great assets to this city and county."
One gang member who was arrested had 22 local and state arrests warrants. Drug-related items were discovered around the playing and sleeping areas of three small children. The mother was also arrested, and another family member is now caring for the children.
On Wednesday, the last day of the operation, a number of fugitive gang members turned themselves in to local law enforcement.
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 seized activities.
From the inception of Operation Community Shield in February 2005 through Aug. 31, 2009, ICE agents working in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide have arrested more than 14,500 street gang members and associates belonging to more than 900 different gangs, and representing 5,831 criminal violations. More than 170 of those arrested were gang leaders and 2,483 were MS-13 gang members or associates.