September 6th, 2007 01:59 EST
ICE arrests 65 during anti-gang operation
OKLAHOMA CITY - Federal agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office here, in partnership with other federal and local law enforcement agencies, arrested 65 people during a seven-day local enforcement action targeting violent street gang members 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 5,000 members from more than 500 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 Oklahoma City street gangs: Barrio Gran Mexicanos, Gran Barrio Central, Juarito Sureno 14, LA 36, Los Centrales, Murdertown, South Side Locos and Sureno 13.
Those arrested during this latest Operation Community Shield action include members of the following Oklahoma City street gangs: Barrio Gran Mexicanos, Gran Barrio Central, Juarito Sureno 14, LA 36, Los Centrales, Murdertown, South Side Locos and Sureno 13. "Our law enforcement partnerships removed many fugitive criminals and violent street gang members who pose a danger to our communities," said John Chakwin Jr., special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Dallas. "These partnerships offer an effective way to reduce crime in Oklahoma City. Since most of these gang members illegally reside in the United States, they are also being processed for deportation."
"The results of Operation Community Shield are a great example of what happens when multiple law enforcement agencies work as one," said Sheriff John Whetsel, Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office. "68 deputies with the Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office participated in this sting which has removed some of Oklahoma County's most dangerous gang members off the streets. The Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office is proud of the hard work done by our deputies and the many other agencies that participated in Operation Community Shield."
The aliens who were arrested originate from the following countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Iraq and Mexico. Three U.S. citizens were also arrested during this operation by local law enforcement agencies.
Forty-two of those arrested during this operation are known members of local street gangs; 15 had active warrants for their arrest, or were arrested on state charges. Some cases 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. ICE placed detainers on those aliens who are in state custody to ensure that if they are released for any reason they will be turned over to ICE. Three aliens who did not have previous criminal convictions have already been voluntarily returned to Mexico.
Some of the crimes associated with those arrested during this local operation include: 1st degree rape, burglary, drug trafficking and various drug-related convictions, sexual battery, lewd acts with a child, assaulting a police office, harboring a fugitive, intentionally discharging a firearm, and illegally possessing a firearm.