Immigration Has Arrested 11,000 ‘Transnational’ Gang Members in 3 Years

Tuesday, October 07, 2008
By Matthew Hadro

( ) – Over the past three years, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested more than 11,000 members and associates of “transnational” gangs operating inside the United States.

In an effort called Operation Community Shield, ICE has targeted street gangs, investigated their internal operations, disrupted their inflow of cash, weapons, and various assets, and worked to remove illegal alien gang members from the U.S.

In the last four months alone–from June to September–ICE agents made nearly 1,800 arrests as part of what the agency is calling a nationwide public safety “surge.” Almost 1,500 of those arrests were of gang members or their associates–including members of the violent transnational MS-13 gang.

“We aren’t surprised, but we are happy with our results and the partnership with the different federal and state and local police officers that help us through this,” ICE spokesman Brandon A. Montgomery told

The “surge” operation, which ICE conducted in conjunction with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, targeted dangerous criminals in urban areas in 28 different states.

“It was a positive message about what we’re doing and how we’re working with other partners. It doesn’t work if you do it all on your own,” he added.

Agents in Atlanta, Ga., for example, conducted a one-month metropolitan operation along with 30 local law enforcement agencies. This resulted in 127 arrests, including Roberto Dominguez, a 27-year-old Mexican national and alleged leader of the Inland Empire Gang. Dominguez was previously convicted and imprisoned for 33 months before being deported to Mexico. He illegally re-entered the U.S.

In Boise, Idaho, agents conducted a three-day initiative, dubbed “Street Sweeper,” which targeted well-known criminals and gang members. From June 18-21, the operation conducted13 felony arrests, 149 misdemeanor arrests, contacts with 182 gang members and associates, and seizure of a number of weapons.

All told, ICE reported that it has made nearly 4,000 “criminal arrests” since 2005, as well as 7,109 “administrative immigration arrests.”

The surge was designed to counter the rampant crime from transnational street gangs throughout the country.

More than 2,018 of those apprehended were members or associates of the notorious MS-13–a gang that includes members from Colombia, Honduras, Ecuador, El Salvador and other Latin American countries.

In a report released last week, ICE said that transnational street gangs “have a significant number of foreign-born members and are frequently involved in human and contraband smuggling, immigration violations and other crimes with a nexus to the border. Like any street gang, these transnational gangs have a propensity toward violence. Their members commit a number of crimes including robbery, extortion, assault, rape and murder.”

Along with immigrant violations, about 80 percent of the immigrant gang members that were arrested committed “serious crimes,” with 40 percent labeled as “violent criminals.”

Transnational immigrant gangs have been sharply increasing in number and spreading to suburban and rural areas, where law enforcement is unequipped to deal with them.

Almost 60 percent of the gang members arrested for being illegal immigrants were Mexican citizens.

Certain gangs, such as MS-13 gang, are considered highly mobile and engage in human trafficking, enabling their members, when deported to their country of origin, to return to the U.S. within weeks. According to ICE, some gang members even plot their return while in prison.

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