July 24th, 2007 05:31 EST
Operation Community Shield, arrests 121 gang members
DALLAS — Federal agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office here, in partnership with other federal and local law enforcement agencies, arrested 121 violent street gang members during a seven-day local enforcement action that ended early Sunday morning.
These are the latest arrests under an ICE program called “Operation Community Shield,” a comprehensive ongoing national initiative launched in February 2005 to disrupt and dismantle violent street gangs in the United States. Operation Community Shield takes advantage of ICE’s immigration and customs authorities in a combined, national campaign against street gang members, many of whom are aliens and are eligible for deportation.
Nationally, these efforts have resulted in the arrest of more than 4,500 members of 532 different gangs. Those arrested under Operation Community Shield are either prosecuted criminally or removed from the country through immigration proceedings.
Those arrested during this latest Operation Community Shield action include members of the following 27 local street gangs: 18th St., 28th St., Asian Boyz, Brown Pride, Diamond Hill, Eastside Homeboys, Eastside Locos, FTH, Fort Worth 28 Pride, How High Crew, Junior Homeboyz, Latin Kings, Love Field Players, Mexican Klan Locos, Mexican Mafia, MS-13, Neighborhood Crips, Northside Friends, Northside Locos, Puro Loco Mexicanos, Puro Tango Blast, Riverside 13, Sureno 13, True Bud Smokers, Valgos 18, Varrio Northside and Westside 12.
“Working in close partnership with federal and local law enforcement agencies, we removed from our communities many fugitive criminals and violent street gang members,” said John Chakwin Jr., special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Dallas. “Since most of these gang members illegally reside in the United States, they are also being processed for deportation. Some have already been returned to their countries of origin.”
U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper, Northern District of Texas, said, “Operation Community Shield has a proven track record in finding and arresting illegal aliens who are members of dangerous street gangs. Last week’s operation by federal and local law enforcement once again proves the effectiveness of collaborative law enforcement. My office will evaluate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those cases that are referred to us.” Roper continued, “Our communities deserve to live free from the fear of violent gangs, and the Department of Justice’s bold anti-gang strategy is working to prevent gang membership, prosecute gang violence, and prepare offenders to return to society and resist the allure of gang activity.”
Some of those arrested had active warrants for their arrest. Still others are being presented to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for federal prosecution for re-entering the United States after having already been deported, which is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Some of the crimes associated with the gang members arrested during this local operation include: Murder, sexually assaulting a child, robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated robbery, possessing a controlled substance, manufacturing a controlled substance, unlawfully carrying a weapon, engaging in organized criminal activity, burglary of a building, evading arrest, and resisting arrest.
ICE partnerships with law enforcement
Law enforcement partnerships are critical to the success of Operation Community Shield. Collaboration in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex begins when ICE agents receive data from law enforcement agencies about violent gang members in the area. ICE then conducts further investigation to determine if any of these suspects are subject to arrest for federal customs or immigration violations. After identifying targets subject to ICE authorities, ICE collaborates with local police and associated federal agencies to jointly conduct a local operation that leads to arresting street gang members and their associates. Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex law enforcement agencies that participated in this latest ICE Operation Community Shield action include: the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Texas; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the FBI; the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BoP); Fort Worth Police Department; Dallas Police Department; Irving Police Department; Farmers Branch Police Department; Arlington Police Department; and Wichita Falls Police Department.
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. Operation Community Shield was launched in February 2005 after a threat assessment by all ICE field offices identified “Mara Salvatrucha” (MS-13) as one of the largest and most violent street gangs in the country. The assessment found that most gang members were foreign-born, in the United States illegally, had prior criminal convictions, and/or were involved in crimes that made them subject to ICE’s broad immigration and customs authorities.
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.