Operation Community Shield/Transnational Gangs

Transnational Gangs

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Targeting Violent Transnational Street Gangs

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recognizes that transnational criminal street gangs represent a significant threat to public safety in communities throughout the United States.

In 2005, ICE initiated Operation Community Shield, an international law enforcement initiative that combines Homeland Security Investigations' (HSI) 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.

Southern Tempest

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Operation Big Freeze

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Mission Statement

HSI's National Gang Unit leverages its anti-gang initiative called Operation Community Shield to enhance U.S. public safety. The unit  develops strategic domestic and foreign law enforcement partnerships and utilizes those partnerships, along with all of its unique legal authorities to target gangs, to suppress violence and prosecute criminal enterprises.

Operation Community Shield Overview

Operation Community Shield does the following:

  • Works with federal, state and local law enforcement partners, in the United States and abroad, to develop a comprehensive and integrated approach to conducting criminal investigations and other law enforcement operations against gangs.
  • Identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements.
  • Deters, disrupts and dismantles gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities.
  • Seeks prosecution and/or removal of alien gang members from the United States.
  • Works closely with our attaché offices worldwide and foreign law enforcement counterparts in gathering intelligence, sharing information and conducting coordinated enforcement operations.

HSI special agents routinely investigate these crimes side-by-side with law enforcement partners in pursuit of racketeering influenced and corrupt organization (RICO), violent crime in aid of racketeering (VICAR) and Hobbs Act prosecutions in order to most effectively disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises.

Operation Community Shield Results

Since the launch of Operation Community Shield, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and its partners have arrested more than 27,600 gang members and associates, representing more than 2,200 different gangs and cliques.

These apprehensions include more than 14,970 criminal arrests and more than 12,630 administrative immigration arrests. Of these, more than 350 arrests were of gang leaders, and more than 11,260 of the arrested suspects had violent criminal histories. Through this initiative, HSI has also seized more than 3,500 firearms.

ICE Combined Authorities

ICE's unique dual federal authorities, both criminal and administrative, have made the agency a leader in criminal investigations targeting transnational street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs that pose a threat to the public safety and national security.

Moreover, these organizations are involved in many HSI purview violations including:

1.  Human Smuggling and Trafficking

2.  Narcotics Smuggling and Distribution

3.  Identity Theft and Benefit Fraud

4.  Money Laundering and Bulk Cash Smuggling

5.  Weapons Smuggling and Arms Trafficking

Recent News

2/1/2013 Alexandria, VA Northern Virginia Korean Night Breeders Gang leader sentenced to 210 months for extorting local businesses

1/30/2013 Upper Marlboro, MD HSI assists in arrest of 2 Maryland MS-13 gang members on attempted murder charges

1/17/2013 Boston, MA 30 Boston gang members charged with drug and firearms offenses

12/14/2012 Alexandria, VA MS-13 clique leader sentenced to more than 17 years for child sex trafficking

12/7/2012 Washington, DC MS-13 member pleads guilty to racketeering conspiracy that led to murders, other violence

11/28/2012 Hammond, IN Latin Kings street gang member sentenced in Indiana to 15 years for racketeering, conspiracy, related crimes

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Gang Intelligence Gathering and Sharing

HSI is the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and has positioned itself as the leader in transnational criminal gang investigations. As such, HSI is committed to sharing gang intelligence gathered through investigations to aggressively pursue leads.