U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have arrested 2,179 illegal aliens, including gang members and sexual predators, as part of a three-week nationwide interior immigration enforcement operation.
Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers, who heads ICE, said yesterday about half of those arrested in Operation Return to Sender had criminal records for crimes ranging from sexual assault of a minor to assault with a deadly weapon.
Mrs. Myers said 140 were illegal aliens with convictions for sexual offenses against children, 367 were members or associates of violent street gangs, including Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), and 640 were fugitive aliens who had been issued final orders of removal by an immigration judge but failed to comply.
Many of the illegals, she said, had prior arrests in this country. About 800 of those arrested in the operation have been deported. More than 700 of the arrests were made during sweeping raids in California, with 38 taken into custody in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
“America’s welcome does not extend to immigrants who come here to commit crimes,” Mrs. Myers said during a press conference.
“ICE will leave no stone unturned in hunting down and deporting aliens who victimize our communities. Interior enforcement initiatives like Operation Return to Sender are a critical and necessary complement to our nation’s border security measures.”
The ICE operation, which began May 26, involved every field office from the agency’s Office of Investigations and the Office of Detention and Removal Operations, both of which carried out enforcement operations in conjunction with state and local law-enforcement agencies.
Mrs. Myers said those arrested included:
Franklin Ademir Rodriguez, a 25-year-old Salvadoran national and member of MS-13, whose criminal history includes an assault and battery conviction for helping other MS-13 gang members paralyze a 13-year-old boy by stabbing him in the spine with a sharpened stake.
Jose Garcia Rios, a Mexican national whose criminal history extends from 1985. She said Garcia has been arrested 13 times, been removed from the country several times, and has convictions for aggravated robbery, drug dealing, drug possession, terror threats and evading arrest.
Wilber Kuk, a 24-year-old Mexican national and member of 18th Street gang in Washington, who has convictions for abduction, malicious wounding, robbery and use of a firearm.
Samuel Gil Martinez, a 24-year-old Salvadoran national and member of MS-13, who twice has been convicted in Boston of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon — beating one person with a baseball bat and attacking another at a bus stop with a “Club” automobile lock.
Angel Lira-Alvarez, a 26-year-old Mexican national, who has convictions for manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance, theft and burglary. She said he had been deported, but re-entered the United States and was arrested again for marijuana possession.
Those arrested are from Angola, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cape Verde, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Egypt, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Senegal, Thailand, Uganda, United Kingdom and Uzbekistan.
Mrs. Myers said the arrests are the latest enforcement actions by the agency under an interior immigration enforcement strategy announced April 20, part of the Secure Border Initiative (SBI) — Homeland Security’s multiyear plan to secure America’s borders and reduce illegal migration.