The Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Miami Violent Gang Task Force apprehended more than 50 members and associates of violent street gangs in South Florida. In the wake of the shooting by gang members that resulted in the death of City of Miami police detective James Walker, ICE joined forces with local law enforcement agencies to target street gang members trafficking narcotics and operating in North Miami Beach. This two-day gang enforcement operation ended with 36 defendants who were indicted for various federal and state violations, ranging from robbery and burglary to possession and distribution of marijuana and crack cocaine, as well as possession of illegal substances.
Because ICE recognizes that violent transnational criminal street gangs represent a threat to public safety in neighborhoods and communities across the U.S., in 2005 ICE established itself as the lead federal agency in the investigation of transnational criminal street gangs with its national initiative called Operation Community Shield (OCS). This effort is coordinated with state and local law enforcement to develop a comprehensive and integrated approach to conducting criminal investigations. By identifying street gangs and developing intelligence on their membership, associates and criminal activities, OCS helps in deterring, disrupting and dismantling gang operations. Their operations enjoy a high rate of success thanks to their cutting-edge technology and enforcement methods that are brought forth by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities.
Since the launch of OCS, ICE has been credited with arresting more than 15,000 gang members representing more than 1,000 different gangs. The apprehensions include more than 6,000 criminal arrests and nearly 9,000 administrative immigration arrests of which included 190 gang leaders. ICE’s Law Enforcement Support Center compares data on suspects with immigration databases to determine whether individuals are subject to ICE’s federal immigration authorities. If the results indicate that the individual is residing in this country illegally, ICE will then go on to seek prosecution and possibly even remove the person from the United States. This initiative has proven to be one of the more successful methods employed by ICE with the aim of keeping our neighborhoods and community safe.