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Over 1,000 suspected gang members arrested in federal operation

Project Shadowfire sweeps across the U.S.

NATIONAL – The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday the arrests of 1,333 suspected gang members during a five-week federal operation called Project Shadowfire.

Federal officials said the arrests included 915 suspected transnational criminal gang members and those accused of other transnational criminal activity, such as drug trafficking, human smuggling and sex trafficking, murder and racketeering.

Project Shadowfire was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and ran from Feb. 15 to March 21, officials said.

“This operation is the latest example of ICE’s ongoing efforts, begun more than a decade ago under Operation Community Shield, 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,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña.

DHS said 1,001 suspects are charged with criminal offenses and 132 were arrested administratively for immigration violations. Authorities said the project seized 150 firearms, more than 20 kilograms of narcotics and more than $70,000 in U.S currency.

Officials said the majority of arrestees were affiliated with gangs like MS-13, Sureños, Norteños, Bloods and several prison-based gangs.

DHS said the following cities required the most enforcement action:

  • Los Angeles
  • San Juan
  • Atlanta
  • San Francisco
  • Houston
  • El Paso areas

Officials said most of the individuals arrested during the operation were U.S. citizens, but 239 foreign nationals from 13 countries in Central America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean were also apprehended, authorities said.

According to federal officials, the Operation Community Shield initiative has made more than 40,000 arrests and seized more than 8,000 firearms since starting in February 2005. The program utilizes HSI special agents in partnership with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

To report suspicious activity, call ICE's 24-hour, toll-free hotline at: 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or visit www.ice.gov/tips.