Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested 18 alleged gang members and their associates during a three-day operation this week, the latest local effort in an ongoing national HSI initiative to target transnational gang members.
HSI agents conducted the operation, which concluded Tuesday, in Chicago, Cicero and Berwyn.
Cicero Police Superintendent Bernard Harrison said the federal agencies reached out to the Cicero force, which provided tactical officers to assit in the apprehension of five of the 18 gang members and associates ultimately arrested.
"It sends a signal to the gang members that this can happen," Harrison said.
Bewryn Police Chief James Ritz said his department also cooperated in the sweep by ICE and HSI.
All 18 men are documented members or associates of the following transnational street gangs: Latin Kings, Two-Six Boys, Two-Two Boys, Ambrose, Sureños 13, and the Bishops.
All but one of those arrested have criminal histories that include convictions for a wide range of crimes committed in the United States. Some of their convictions include possession of a firearm by a gang member; aggravated assault with a gun/knife; aggravated unlawful use of a weapon; endangering the life of a child; burglary and domestic battery.
All the gang members arrested are from Mexico, except one, who is from El Salvador. They range in age from 18 to 42. Of the men arrested, 3 were previously deported to Mexico, of which one may face criminal prosecution for illegally re-entering the United States after being deported. One is an immigration fugitive who has an outstanding deportation order. All 18 remain in ICE custody on administrative immigration charges pending deportation.
"When we arrest violent gang members and remove them from the United States, we immediately improve public safety in Chicago’s communities," HSI Chicago Special Agent in Charge Gary Hartwig stated in a press release. "Keeping the public safe is at the core of HSI's mission, and when we partner with local authorities to target and deport gang members, we can achieve impressive results."
This investigation was part of HSI’s Operation Community Shield initiative. Operation Community Shield partners with existing federal, state and local anti-gang efforts to identify violent street gangs and develop intelligence on gang members and associates, gang criminal activities and international movements to arrest, prosecute, imprison and/or deport transnational gang members. HSI’s National Gang Unit’s goal is to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities.
Since the inception of Operation Community Shield in February 2005, HSI special agents working in conjunction with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies nationwide have arrested more than 30,300 street gang members and associates linked to more than 2,300 different gangs. At least 40 percent of those arrested had a violent criminal history. More than 390 of those arrested were gang leaders and more than 4,240 were MS-13 gang members or associates. Through this initiative nationally, HSI has seized more than 4,500 firearms.