ICE arrests 55 in Arizona in connection with gangs, homicide and kidnapping

MIchael Johnson Photo/U.S. Customs and Immigration: One thousand one hundred and thirty-three individuals were arrested across the U.S. during Project Shadowfire, a 5-week operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that ended March 18.

ICE-led gang surge nets 1,378 arrests nationwide

Contributed Article

PHOENIX — A six-week nationwide gang operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) concluded this weekend with 1,378
arrests a cross the U.S ., 55 in Arizona – the largest gang surge conducted by HSI to date. The operation targeted gang members and associates involved in transnational criminal activity including drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human smuggling, sex trafficking, murder and racketeering.
Arizona arrests included 48 U.S . citizens, seven foreign nationals, 16 confirmed gang members, and seven gang associates.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy ICE: An HSI Special Agent interviews an individual after his arrest.

Numerous state, local and federal law enforcement partners, including ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), participated in the HSI-led operation, which ran March 26 to May 6.

“HSI is committed to combatting gang violence and criminal activity in Arizona,”said Scott Brown, special agent in charge of HSI Phoenix. “The success of this operation is directly attributed to the ongoing collaboration with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners. Together, we dealt a serious blow to gang members and other serious criminals as we strive to make our communities safer.”

Of the 16 gang members locally arrested, 12 are U.S . citizens and four are foreign nationals, two of which are wanted in connection with homicides committed in the U.S .

One of the many individuals encountered by HSI Phoenix special agents is a U.S . citizen and member of the Aryan Brotherhood who was arrested in Surprise, Arizona, after barricading himself inside his home.

Individuals are confirmed as gang members if they admit membership in a gang; have been convicted of violating Title 18 USC 521 or any other federal or state law criminalizing or imposing civil consequences for gang-related activity; or if they meet a combination of other criteria, such as having tattoos identifying a specific gang or being identified as a gang member by a reliable source.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy ICE: An HSI Special Agent surveys gang graffiti, or “tagging” from the Sureno gang.

HSI enforcement actions occurred around the country, with the greatest activity taking place in the Houston, New York, Atlanta and Newark areas.
About Operation Community Shield
Project New Dawn is the latest example of ICE’s ongoing efforts, begun in 2005 under Operation Community Shield, to target violent gang members and their associates, eradicate the violence they
inflict upon our communities and stop the cash flow to transnational organized crime groups. Since 2005, HSI special agents working in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have made more than 47,000 gang-related arrests.

Michael Johnson Photo/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Packaged marijuana was seized as part Project Shadowfire.

Operation Community Shield is a global initiative in which HSI collaborates with federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement partners to combat the growth and proliferation of transnational criminal street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs in the United States and abroad. Through its domestic and international Operation Community Shield task forces, HSI leverages its worldwide presence and expansive statutory and civil enforcement authorities to mitigate the threats posed by these global networks, often through the tracing and seizing of cash, weapons and other illicit proceeds.
Partnerships with state, local, federal and international law enforcement agencies are critical to the success of HSI gang enforcement operations. Law enforcement partners provide actionable intelligence which is critical in the targeting of gangs and their membership for enforcement actions. HSI special agents use intelligence gathered from surge operations to pursue complex criminal enterprise investigations and federal prosecutions.
As part of Operation Community Shield, HSI has effected more than 4,300 criminal arrests and nearly 3,000 civil immigration arrests of MS-13 leaders, members and associates, including criminal
arrests for Racketeering Influence Corrupt Organizations (RICO), Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering (VICAR) and gang conspiracy violations investigated by HSI Baltimore, HSI DC, HSI Charlotte, HSI New York, HSI Long Island, HSI Newark, HSI Boston, HSI San Francisco, HSI San Jose, HSI Los Angeles, HSI Detroit, HSI Nashville, HSI Houston, and our state and local law enforcement partners.

Michael Johnson Photo/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Several firearms were seized in the crackdown.

In October 2012, HSI worked with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to designate MS-13, the first designation of a transnational criminal street gang. As a result of the designation, any property or property interests in the U.S ., or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which MS-13 has an interest, are blocked.
HSI’s National Gang Unit
HSI’s National Gang Unit oversees HSI’s expansive transnational gang portfolio and enables special agents to bring the fight to these criminal enterprises through the development of uniform enforcement and intelligence-sharing strategies.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy ICE: An HSI Special Agent inspects an arrested individual’s tattoos for signs of gang affiliation.

Recent NGU-led operations have included: Southern Tempest in 2011, targeting gangs affiliated with drug trafficking; Project Nefarious in 2012, targeting gangs involved in human smuggling and
trafficking; Project Southbound in 2014, targeting the Sureños, the fasting growing transnational gang in the U.S., Project Wildfire in 2015, and Project Shadowfire in 2016.
To report suspicious activity call ICE’s 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2- ICE or visit