A six-week nationwide gang operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations concluded this weekend.
There were 1,378 arrests across the United States – the largest gang surge conducted by Homeland Security to date.
The operation targeted gang members and associates involved in international criminal activity, including drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human smuggling and sex trafficking, murder and racketeering, officials announced Thursday.
Of the 1,378 total arrested, 1,098 were arrested on federal and/or state criminal charges, including 21 individuals arrested on murder-related charges and seven for rape and sexual assault charges, according authorities.
The remaining 280 were arrested on administrative immigration violations. Of the total arrested, 933 were U.S. citizens and 445 were foreign nationals from 21 countries in South and Central America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean.
Numerous state, local and federal law enforcement partners, including ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, participated in the operation, which ran March 26 to May 6.
“Gangs threaten the safety of our communities, not just in major metropolitan areas but in our suburbs and rural areas, too,” said ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan. “Gang-related violence and criminal activity present an ongoing challenge for law enforcement everywhere. Our efforts to dismantle gangs are much more effective in areas where (a) partnership with local law enforcement is strongest.”
Of the 1,378 total arrested, 1,095 were confirmed as gang members and affiliates – including 137 affiliated with the Bloods, 118 with the Sureños, 104 with MS-13, and 104 with the Crips.
The remaining 283 claimed no gang affiliation but were arrested on either criminal or administrative charges, according to officials.
Individuals are confirmed as gang members if they admit membership in a gang if they have been convicted of violating federal or state laws or imposing civil consequences for gang-related activity.
Also, if they meet certain other criteria such as having tattoos identifying a specific gang or being identified as a gang member by a reliable source, according to officials.
Three individuals arrested during this operation previously had deferred action under DACA or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Illegal immigrants granted DACA who are found to pose a threat to national security or public safety may have their deferred action terminated at any time and the Department of Homeland Security may seek their removal from the United States, according to officials.
Since the start of DACA in 2012, DHS has terminated deferred action for approximately 1,500 recipients due to criminality or gang affiliation concerns.
Ten individuals arrested during this operation crossed the border as unaccompanied minors. Nine of the 10 were confirmed as gang members, eight of whom were MS-13 gang members, officials said.
During this operation, Homeland Security and its partner law enforcement agencies seized 238 firearms; various narcotics including 790.15 ounces of cocaine, 546.96 ounces of methamphetamine, 113.42 ounces of heroin, 1.59 ounces of fentanyl, and 8,019.46 ounces of marijuana; and $491,763 in U.S currency.
Enforcement actions occurred around the country, with the greatest activity taking place in Houston, New York, Atlanta, and Newark areas.
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