- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Federal agents arrested 25 foreign nationals yesterday as suspected sexual predators in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx, N.Y., as part of a continuing law-enforcement investigation known as “Operation Predator,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said.

Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Michael J. Garcia, who heads ICE, said that among those arrested were a 38-year-old Honduran man convicted of rape, sodomy and five counts of sexual abuse on a 14-year-old, and a 44-year-old Guyanese man convicted of sexual abuse of his daughter and another underage girl.

“Sexual predators, particularly those who prey on our nation’s children, will continue to be a top priority in our immigration-enforcement efforts,” said Mr. Garcia. “We are a nation of opportunity, but also of laws. These convicted criminals have forfeited their chance at opportunity by violating our laws.

“ICE plans to remove them from the United States as quickly as possible,” he said.

Martin F. Horn, commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation, said New York has “no tolerance for those who endanger our citizens,” adding that city officials “appreciate the work of ICE and the Department of Homeland Security in supporting our efforts to keep New York the safest big city in the United States.”

Operation Predator is a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from criminal alien sex offenders, child sex tourists, Internet child pornographers and human traffickers.

Mr. Garcia described those arrested as foreign-born sex offenders who have been convicted of charges that include rape, sodomy, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and endangering the welfare of a child. He said they are now eligible for removal from the United States.

Raid targets are from 17 countries including Antigua, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Russia, St. Kitts, Togo, and Trinidad and Tobago.

ICE’s New York Office of Detention and Removal participated in the processing transfer and detention of the predators.

Since Operation Predator began in July 2003, ICE has arrested more than 4,500 child predators nationwide, about 85 percent of whom have been identified as foreign national sex offenders — about 40 percent of which have been illegal aliens.

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