Six locals held in federal gang raids

Six locals held in federal gang raids

By Kristopher Hanson, Staff writer
Long Beach Press Telegram

LONG BEACH Federal authorities have arrested six suspected local gang members as part of a nationwide immigration crackdown targeting violent street gangs, officials said Monday.
The arrests come amid a re newed federal effort to deport gang members known to be in the country illegally, said U.S. Immi gration and Customs Enforce ment investigators.
The crackdown, “Operation Community Shield,’ has netted 1,050 suspects nationally since its launch in January. Many of those arrested have already been de ported.

In Long Beach, federal agents arrested a 32-year-old Salva doran national whose pres ence in the city triggered a shooting earlier this year near 19th Street and Canal Avenue, and a 24-year-old gang member who returned to the city after being deport ed three years ago, officials said. Luis Hernandez, a member of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang, also known as MS-13, was shot in the leg in February after exchanging words with a member of the Westside Longos, one of the city’s largest gangs, Long Beach Police Lt. Gary Morrison said. Roberto Garcia Lopez, an East side Longo who allegedly returned to the United States in October 2002 following his deportation, is facing federal charges for illegal re-entry, said ICE spokeswoman Tammy Wilson.
Lopez has convictions for firearms violations.

Hernandez, Lopez and others face deportation to their home countries following a series of raids in Long Beach, Bellflower, Glendale, Gardena and Los Ange les between July 16 and 28. Feder al agents targeted gang members in Long Beach belonging to MS- 13, Eastside Longos, Westside Longos, Tiny Rascals and Asian Boyz. “These gangs pose a severe threat to public safety and this growth must not go unchal lenged,’ Department of Home land Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a statement. “We will continue to coordinate our ef forts closely with our law enforce ment partners nationally … to help rid our communities of this malignancy.’

MS-13, a street gang rooted in Central America, is known to be head enemies and attack with gre nades and machetes. Federal offi cials estimate between 8,000 and 10,000 MS-13 members live in 31 states the majority of them in the country illegally.

Local authorities estimate that only a handful of MS-13 members live in Long Beach.
The six local suspects include five from Long Beach and one from Bellflower. Only Roberto Garcia Lopez, 24, and Hernandez were identified. Other names were being withheld per the federal government’s policy regarding individuals only facing deportation, Wilson said. Picked up by agents were two Mexican nationals, ages 18 and 3 5, who belong to the Eastside Longos, Long Beach’s largest gang. The 35- year-old has already been deported and the teen awaits deportation, Wilson said. A 37-year-old Westside Longo with convictions for embezzle ment, narcotics possession and firearms violations is facing depor tation following his July 20 arrest in Long Beach. Another Westside Longo, 30, was arrested in Bell flower and is being held without bail. His arrest record includes battery on a police officer, grand theft and narcotics possession.

Others in the Los Angeles area face deportation to El Savador, Guatemala, Laos and Armenia.

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