Thursday, May 11, 2017 | 2:53 p.m.
Federal agents arrested nearly 1,400 people across the country in what immigration officials are calling the “largest gang surge” in its investigative arm’s history, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Thomas Homan announced today.
The six-week operation from March 26 to May 6 netted five arrests in the Las Vegas area, according to an ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice. Four in Las Vegas were tied to local gangs and the fifth was affiliated with a Chicago group, she said. She added that three were arrested on criminal charges and two on non-criminal immigration violations.
A majority of the arrests — 933 out of the 1,378 — are U.S. citizens, officials said.
“Gangs threaten the safety of our communities, not just in major metropolitan areas but in our suburbs and rural areas, too,” Homan said in a statement. “Gang-related violence and criminal activity present an ongoing challenge for law enforcement everywhere. Our efforts to dismantle gangs are much more effective in areas where partnership with local law enforcement is strongest.”
The national efforts resulted in 1,378 arrests: 1,098 on state and federal charges, including 21 on murder-related charges and seven on rape and sexual assault counts, officials said.
The operation targeted gang members and their associates in cases on “transnational criminal activity,” including suspected drug traffickers, weapons smugglers, sex traffickers, and murder and racketeering suspects, officials said.
Out of the 1,095 confirmed gang members and gang-affiliated suspects, 137 were linked to the Bloods gang, 104 with the Crips, 118 with the Sureños group and 104 with the MS-13 gang, officials said. The Sureños and MS-13 originated in Southern California.
Three of the people in custody previously had Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protection, officials said. Out of the 10 who immigrated illegally as children, nine were confirmed gang members.
About half a million dollars and 238 firearms were seized, officials said.
In an operation in San Antonio, Texas, agents found cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, four guns, and confiscated $48,000 in cash, officials said. In San Diego, they found 17 firearms, meth, marijuana and over $25,000 cash.
About 933 were U.S. citizens and 445 are foreign nationals from 21 countries in South and Central America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean, officials said.