Feds arrest 1,100 in assault on cross-border gangs

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Federal officials arrested more than 1,100 people in the course of a five-week operation, which concluded earlier this month, targeting members of international gangs suspected to be involved with drug trafficking, murder and other crimes.

The Department of Homeland Security announced on Monday that the operation, dubbed “Project Shadowfire,” yielded arrests of 915 alleged gang members and associates.

Roughly 1,000 of those arrested were charged with criminal offenses, and the other 132 face immigration violations. 

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The majority of the alleged criminals are U.S. citizens, but 239 foreigners from Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean were picked up as part of the extended operation.

The crackdown, which took place between Feb. 15 and March 21, was carried out by special agents within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) working alongside state and local law enforcement agencies. The greatest amount of activity took place in areas surrounding Los Angeles; San Francisco; Atlanta; Houston; El Paso, Texas; and San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to the government.

The surge in arrests came as part of a long-running ICE initiative targeting a range of transnational gangs operating in the U.S.

Sarah Saldaña, the director of ICE, called the Project Shadowfire operation “the latest example of ICE’s ongoing efforts … to target violent gang members and their associates, to eradicate the violence they inflict upon our communities and to stop the cash flow to transnational organized crime groups operating overseas.”

The majority of those arrested are alleged to be affiliated with gangs including MS-13, the Bloods, the Sureños and the Norteños.

In addition to the arrests, officials also seized 150 guns, more than 20 kilograms of narcotics and $70,000 in cash, the government said.