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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / ICE arrests 87 Los Angeles-area gang members and associates in nationwide ‘Project Wildfire’ surge

ICE arrests 87 Los Angeles-area gang members and associates in nationwide ‘Project Wildfire’ surge

by Pasadena Independent
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Nearly 1,000 gang members and associates, including 87 individuals from the Southland, were arrested during Project Wildfire, a nationwide six-week operation targeting transnational criminal gangs led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Project Wildfire, which ran from Feb. 23 to March 31, led to the arrest of individuals tied to more than 40 street gangs in the Los Angeles area, including Barrio Van Nuys, the Eastside Wilmas and 18th Street. Of the individuals taken into custody locally, 70 are being charged criminally, primarily with state violations. The remaining arrestees, including foreign nationals from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, were processed on administrative immigration violations and will now face deportation.

In the Southland, the Project Wildfire arrests included a member of the Diamond Street gang taken into custody March 3 at a Los Angeles residence investigators allege was being used to distribute methamphetamine. The home, located within 100 yards of a school, had a steel reinforced front door. The suspect is charged with using a fortified residence for narcotics trafficking. Also arrested locally during the surge was a Paca Flats gang member with prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and possession of methamphetamine. The 25-year-old was taken into custody March 16 at a residence in Arleta for violating the terms of his parole.

Across California, Project Wildfire led to the arrest of 178 gang members and gang associates, including 50 individuals in the Bay Area and 28 in the Imperial Valley.

“Criminal gangs inflict violence and fear upon our communities and without the attention of law enforcement, these groups can spread like a cancer,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “That’s why ICE works with law enforcement partners around the country to stamp out gang activity wherever it takes place.”

Nationwide, HSI special agents worked with more than 200 state, local and federal law enforcement partners to apprehend individuals from various gangs. Of the 976 gang members or associates arrested: 913 were charged with criminal offenses and 63 were arrested administratively for immigration violations; 650 had violent criminal histories, including 19 individuals wanted on active warrants for murder and 15 for rape or sexual assault. In addition to the arrests, Project Wildfire resulted in the seizure of more than 80 firearms.

This operation was part of HSI’s Operation Community Shield, a global initiative where HSI collaborates with federal, state and local law enforcement partners to combat the growth and proliferation of transnational criminal street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs in the U.S. 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 posted by these global networks, often through the tracing and seizing of cash, weapons and other illicit proceeds.

Since the inception of Operation Community Shield in February 2005, HSI special agents, working in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, have arrested more than 36,000 street gang members and associates linked to more than 2,600 different gangs. At least 46 percent of those arrested had a violent criminal history. More than 490 of those arrested were gang leaders, and more than 4,700 were MS-13 gang members or associates.

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

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