- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2005

A federal grand jury in Georgia has indicted 18 reputed leaders of a violent street gang known as Surenos 13, or SUR-13, on racketeering charges ranging from murder, attempted murder and carjacking to armed robbery and drug smuggling.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, assisted by the FBI and state and local authorities in Georgia, had arrested 16 of the gang members named in the indictment as of yesterday, which was handed up July 16 but sealed until arrests could be made. The indictment was the result of a two-year investigation into the activities of Surenos 13.

“This indictment is an important step in combating the problems that violent street gangs such as this pose,” U.S. Attorney David Nahmias in Atlanta said yesterday, noting that federal authorities used federal racketeering and drug-conspiracy statutes to target the gang’s entire leadership.

The arrests are part of a continuing effort by ICE to target violent gangs nationwide whose memberships include foreign nationals, including SUR-13, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), 18th Street Gang, Latin Kings, Mexican Mafia, Asian Boyz and Jamaican Posse, all of whom specialize in murder, rape, assault, drug trafficking and immigration fraud.

Last week, ICE agents arrested 582 gang members and their associates in 27 states as part of Operation Community Shield on charges related to violent crimes, immigration violations and possession of fraudulent documents — 261 of whom were identified as foreign nationals with criminal records.

The Georgia indictment also named eight of the gang members on charges of conspiring to possess and distribute methamphetamine and marijuana, four others with carjacking and 12 defendants with firearms violations, including possessing, carrying, using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to violent crimes and drug trafficking.

ICE spokesman Dean Boyd said that in addition to the indictment, the investigation included the arrest and federal prosecution of seven other SUR-13 gang members, the deportation of 40 others, and the seizure of 13 firearms and $7,000 in cash.

Also arrested, he said, were 11 SUR-13 members and associates who were residing illegally in the United States and now face administrative deportation.

ICE agent Kenneth Smith, who heads the agency’s Atlanta field office, said the success of the investigation could be attributed to the “cooperation and commitment” of several local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in the Atlanta area.

“By targeting the leadership of this criminal organization, we will have a significant impact on their illegal activities, resulting in safer neighborhoods and communities,” he said.

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