Federal agents arrested nearly 1,400 gang members in a six-week national sting, making it the largest-ever gang bust the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations branch has conducted.
ICE officers, including sub-groups Enforcement and Removal Operations and HSI, arrested 1,378 people between March 26 and May 6. About 930 those arrested were U.S. citizens, while 445 were foreign nationals representing 21 countries in South and Central America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean.
Just under 1,100 arrestees were taken into custody on federal and/or state criminal charges, including drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human smuggling and sex trafficking. Another 280 people were arrested on administrative criminal violations.
Eighty percent of the total arrests were confirmed as gang members and affiliates. More than 100 members each of the Bloods, Crips, Surenos and MS-13 were among those taken into custody.
Three of the arrestees were recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and will have their status rescinded due to violating the terms. Another 10 individuals entered the U.S. as unaccompanied minors - nine of whom are gang members.
"Gangs threaten the safety of our communities, not just in major metropolitan areas but in our suburbs and rural areas, too," ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said in a statement. "Gang-related violence and criminal activity present an ongoing challenge for law enforcement everywhere. Our efforts to dismantle gangs are much more effective in areas where partnership with local law enforcement is strongest."
Officers and local law enforcement agencies seized 238 firearms, $491,763 in U.S. currency and a significant amount of narcotics during the raids, including 790 ounces of cocaine, 547 ounces of methamphetamine, 113 ounces of heroin and 8,019 ounces of marijuana.
In the Washington, D.C., area, HSI officers arrested 10 members of MS-13 and criminally arrested one member of the gang at a stash house in Falls Church, Va., on April 26.