WICHITA, Kan. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Wichita Police Department today announced the arrest of 22 transnational gang members and their associates during this latest joint local effort of an ongoing national ICE program called "Operation Community Shield."
Each of the 22 individuals was arrested for their membership, participation or association with violent street gangs. Members or associates of four street gangs were arrested during this operation, including: Vato Loco Boys, Sureno 13, Players for Life, and North Side Gangsters.
Nine gang members were arrested during the planning phase of the operation based on outstanding state arrest warrants, which included: burglary, theft, assault, drive-by shootings, weapons violations, and various misdemeanor charges. They are currently in state custody awaiting disposition on their criminal charges. ICE placed detainers on all nine gang members so that if they're released from state custody for any reason, they'll be transferred to ICE.
The other 13 gang members are illegal aliens who were arrested during the one-day culmination of the Community Shield operation on Tuesday. All 13 are currently in ICE custody pending return to their countries of origin. Three juvenile gang member brothers with serious juvenile criminal histories were arrested with their mother during this operation; they will all be voluntarily returned to Mexico.
All those arrested are from Mexico. Following any judicial proceedings and sentences, all will be returned to Mexico.
"ICE has unique immigration and customs law enforcement authorities which complement the authorities of our federal, state and local partners," said Antonio Farias, resident agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Wichita. "Together, we can effectively remove dangerous gang members and their associates from the streets to make our communities safer. We look forward to working with Wichita PD to accomplish our common goal of combating crime."
"This operation reflects the Wichita Police Department's philosophy of working with other law enforcement agencies, such as ICE, to remove violent gang members from our community," said Wichita Police Chief Norman D. Williams. "The Wichita Police Department will continue to aggressively address gang violence to make Wichita a safe and secure community."
About Operation Community Shield
Operation Community Shield is a national law enforcement initiative that partners ICE with other federal, state and local law enforcement, combining resources, authorities and expertise in an effort to target members of violent street gangs. 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.