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Chicago Woman Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens
A woman was arrested Wednesday, February 13, 2013, on charges she allegedly sold fraudulent identity documents to illegal aliens. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigra

Tag Archives: National Gang Threat Assessment Report

ICE and HSI Recognized for Combating International Gang Activity

Top-level officials from South San Francisco and Daly City met with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents the morning of Wednesday, November 14, 2012, to formally recognize them for their efforts to combat gang-related crime and violence in those communities.

The mayors and police chiefs of both cities presented HSI special agents with a proclamation commending their work on a long-term racketeering investigation that led to May’s federal indictment of 19 members of a South San Francisco street gang. Three HSI special agents were shot and wounded while seeking to arrest one of the gang members charged in that case. In addition to the original racketeering allegations, that defendant, Victor Flores, aka Little Creeper, of Petaluma, Calif., is now accused in a second superseding indictment of attempting to murder the three federal agents.

“The city of South San Francisco wishes to thank HSI for its assistance in the investigation and arrest of the 19 members of the criminal street gang who were responsible for many gang-related crimes, including a triple homicide in December 2010,” said South San Francisco Police Chief Michael Massoni. “HSI’s collaboration with the South San Francisco Police Department was instrumental in bringing this case to a successful conclusion. This investigation underscores what positive outcomes can happen when local law enforcement works in collaboration with our partners in the federal system.”

In July, South San Francisco representatives traveled to Southern California to personally thank members of HSI’s Los Angeles-based Special Response Team, including the three special agents who were wounded, for their assistance with the execution of the gang arrest warrants. HSI’s Special Response Teams are often called upon to serve high-risk warrants.

“Public recognition is always gratifying, but perhaps the greatest reward comes from knowing that our agents’ efforts have contributed to making these communities safer,” said Clark Settles, special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. “Promoting public safety is at the core of HSI’s mission and, as this case makes clear, when we partner with local authorities to target transnational street gangs, we can achieve impressive results.”

This investigation into the South San Francisco street gang was part of HSI’s Operation Community Shield. Launched in 2005, Operation Community Shield is an international law enforcement initiative that brings to bear HSI’s expansive statutory and civil enforcement authorities to combat the growth and proliferation of transnational criminal street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs throughout the United States. With assistance from state, local, tribal and foreign law enforcement partners, the initiative helps HSI locate, investigate, prosecute, and where applicable, immediately remove gang members from our neighborhoods and ultimately from the United States.

Project Nefarious Arrests Over 600 Gang Members

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations  (HSI) announced Wednesday, April 25, the arrests of 637 gang members and associates from 168 different gangs during Project Nefarious, an HSI-led operation executed in 150 U.S. cities and Honduras targeting transnational street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs involved with human smuggling and trafficking organizations (HSTOs).

Project Nefarious began in February 2012 with threat assessments, intelligence gathering, information sharing and target identification, which resulted in enforcement operations from April 9 to April 21. Through Project Nefarious, HSI special agents worked side-by-side with 148 federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners to apprehend individuals from 28 gangs affiliated with HSTOs. More than 40 percent of those gang members or associates arrested during this operation were affiliated with gangs tied to HSTOs.

“The goal of Project Nefarious was to identify, locate, arrest, prosecute and remove gang members and associates affiliated with human smuggling and trafficking organizations,” said HSI Executive Associate Director James Dinkins. “By ridding our streets of 637 gang members and associates, we are putting a dent in the violence these transnational criminal street gangs bring to our communities.”

The impetus for Project Nefarious was the U.S. Department of Justice, National Gang Intelligence Center, National Gang Threat Assessment 2011 report, which identified gangs who are progressively becoming involved with human smuggling and trafficking. The report classified numerous gangs as exceedingly dangerous due to their involvement with
cross-border criminal activity linked to human smuggling and trafficking.

Transnational criminal street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-national members and are frequently involved in human smuggling and trafficking; narcotics smuggling and distribution; identity theft and benefit fraud; money laundering and bulk cash smuggling; weapons smuggling and arms trafficking; cyber crimes; export violations and other crimes with a nexus to the border.

Of the 637 gang members or associates arrested;

  • 479 were charged with criminal offenses,
  • 158 were administrative arrests,
  • 210 had violent criminal histories,
  • 10 were wanted for murder, and
  • 290 were foreign nationals.

In addition to the 637 arrests, 155 individuals were arrested for federal and state criminal violations, or administrative immigration violations. Of the 155, 117 were charged with criminal offenses, 58 had violent criminal histories, 38 were administrative arrests and 69 were foreign nationals. In addition to the arrests, during the operation special agents seized 52 firearms, 5,462.6 pounds of marijuana, 6.6 pounds of cocaine, $201,437 in U.S. currency and 14 vehicles.

Arrests during Project Nefarious included:

  • Carlos Alexander Melgar-Andrede, 22, an El Salvadoran national and associate of MS-13 was arrested inLos AngelesCounty on rape charges.
  • Richard Paul Gonzales, 40, a U.S. citizen and member of the Mexikanemi, also
    known as the Mexican Mafia gang, was arrested in Bexar County, Texas, for indecent exposure to minors and adults. His criminal convictions include
    aggravated robbery, evading arrest, dangerous conduct and numerous narcotics-related offenses. Pursuant to this arrest, HSI San Antonio seized two pistols and two shotguns.
  • Rodney Zaid Mejia, Pedro Melendez and Hector Villarreal, all 20-year-olds and Hector Abarca, 21, and Johnnie Sanchez, 31, all members or associates of MS-13, were arrested in Houston on federal charges of racketeering, drug trafficking and firearms violations.
  • Ernesto Zaragoza Solis, 29, a U.S. citizen and associate of Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos, was arrested in Laredo, Texas, for kidnapping and engaging in organized criminal activity. His criminal convictions include transporting of an  undocumented alien for private financial gain.
  • David Solorio, 29, and Ronald Lopez, 46, both associates of the Mexican Mafia, and Sheldon McMorries, 34, all U.S. citizens, were arrested in Los Angeles County for conspiracy and murder. McMorries is a member of the street gang Varrio Carson 13, and an alleged hit man for the Mexican Mafia. His criminal convictions include taking a vehicle without consent, attempted grand theft auto and assault with a deadly weapon.
  • Jorge Luis Garcia, 30, a U.S. citizen and member of the Valluco gang was arrested in Starr County, Texas, for evading and resisting arrest and open state warrants for aggravated assault. He is also a registered sex offender and has criminal convictions for possession of marijuana and a controlled substance, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, theft, resisting arrest, evading arrest and burglary.

Those arrested came from 33 countries in Central and South America, Europe, Asia,
Africa and the Caribbean. Of the total number arrested, 720 were males and 72 were females.

This enforcement operation is part of HSI’s Operation Community Shield global anti-gang initiative, and is administered by HSI’s National Gang Unit (NGU). Operation Community Shield partners with existing international, federal, state and local anti-gang efforts to identify violent street gangs, and develop intelligence on gang members and associates, criminal gang activities and international movements to arrest, prosecute, imprison and deport transnational gang members. NGU’s mission is to leverage its anti-gang initiative
“Operation Community Shield” to enhance U.S. public safety by developing strategic domestic and foreign law enforcement partnerships, and utilizing those partnerships along with unique legal authorities to target gangs, suppress their violence and prosecute their criminal enterprises.

Since the inception of Operation Community Shield in 2005, HSI special agents working
in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide have arrested more than 25,629 street gang members and associates. Almost 40 percent of those arrested had a violent criminal history. Of those arrested, 313 were gang leaders and 3,910 were MS-13 gang members or associates. Through this initiative nationally, HSI has seized 3,024 firearms. To date, of those arrested, 13,405 have been charged criminally, and 12,224 have been charged with immigration violations.

Federal agencies involved in Project Nefarious included the FBI, the Drug Enforcement
Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Prisons and U.S. attorneys’ offices around the country.