Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Nationwide ICE Gang Investigation Nets 49 Area Arrests (WBBM-Chicago, IL)

Nationwide ICE Gang Investigation Nets 49 Area Arrests

Posted: Wednesday, 01 October 2008 11:36AM

CHICAGO (STNG) -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the arrests of 1,759 gang members and immigration violators Wednesday, part of a four-month nationwide investigation across 28 states.

In the Chicago area, ICE agents made 49 arrests during a four-day period in July. Of the 49 arrested in the area, 47 were members or associates of the following gangs: Brown Pride, Imperial Gangsters, Insane Deuces, Latin Kings, Norteños-14, Sureños-13 and the 18th Street Gang.

The majority of those arrested -- 42 -- had criminal histories that included convictions and arrests for drunken driving, drug possession, aggravated battery, burglary, theft and domestic battery, according to a release from ICE. All except for one Guatemalan were Mexican nationals, nine of whom had been previously deported

During the operation in July, Chicago ICE agents arrested Valentin Sierra-Martinez, 20, a Mexican national and confirmed Norteno-14 gang member, the release said.

Sierra-Martinez, arrested July 14 in Elgin, was the 10,000th gang member or associate arrested by ICE in Operation Community Shield since 2005. He was in the United States illegally and has an extensive criminal background including convictions for residential burglary, domestic battery, possessing drug paraphernalia and knowingly damaging property. He remains in ICE custody pending removal to Mexico.

Operation Community Shield is aimed at disrupting and dismantling violent transnational street gangs.

"We will not tolerate violent gang activity in our communities, and will use all of our law enforcement tools to thwart criminal efforts of street gangs," Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago, said in the release.

"Through the efforts and cooperation with ICE, the Elgin Police Department has participated in the arrest and detention of local street gang members,” Elgin olice chief Lisa Womack said. “We look forward to any opportunity to work with ICE to rid our streets of these individuals and make them safer for our residents."

Of the 1,759 individuals arrested during the surge, nearly 1,500 were gang members, associates or otherwise criminally charged, including more than 30 percent with violent criminal histories and 17 gang leaders, the release said.

The remaining individuals were encountered and arrested for immigration violations and have been placed into removal proceedings. ICE agents arrested 730 individuals on new criminal charges ranging from attempted murder, aggravated assault and drug and firearms violations to charges of re-entering the country after deportation.

Since 2005, ICE has arrested more than 11,100 members and associates from 890 gangs and seized 388 firearms. To date, 3,997 have been charged criminally, and 7,109 have been charged with immigration violations and processed for deportation.

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