- The Washington Times - Friday, March 11, 2005

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have deported 37 criminal aliens rounded up over the past week in the Washington area, two of whom have ties to a South American gang known as Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, which operates in the region.

Mary Loiselle, director of field operations for ICE’s Washington detention and removal division, said those rounded up include aliens who have been convicted of theft, assault, burglary, sexual battery and malicious wounding — and one who was removed under ICE’s Operation Predator.

“These criminals mistakenly believe that they can fly below the radar and prey upon our communities,” Ms. Loiselle said.

Working with the Fairfax County Police Department, the criminal aliens taken into custody include:

• Jose Funes-Lopez, 26, of Honduras, who admitted being a gang member since the age 14. He illegally entered the United States in October.

• Jose Santos-Laynes, of Honduras, who was arrested during a joint operation with the Fairfax County Police Gang Unit in Virginia. He is an admitted member of MS-13 and illegally entered the United States in 2003.

• Juan Lopez-Mendez, of Mexico, who was arrested during a joint operation with the Fairfax County gang unit. He is a member of MS-13 and illegally entered the United States in September 2002.

• Jose Roberto Portillo, of Honduras, who was convicted in 2003 for aggravated sexual battery in Fairfax County. He was sentenced to five years in prison and illegally entered the United States in 2000.

Ms. Loiselle said Portillo’s deportation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child-sex traffickers.

Since Operation Predator was started in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 5,000 sexual predators and deported more than 2,100 foreign nationals, she said.

The deportation of criminal and other illegal aliens reached record levels in 2004, with more than 160,000 aliens removed. In the Washington area last year, ICE deported 1,391 aliens, including 819 criminal aliens.

MS-13 is the largest street gang in Northern Virginia, with an estimated 2,000 members. It is involved in alien, drug and weapons smuggling, murders, robberies, burglaries, carjackings, extortions, rapes and aggravated assaults — including a machete attack on a 16-year-old in Alexandria that mutilated his hands.

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