A five-week operation, dubbed Project Shadowfire, netted 1,133 arrests, including more than 900 transnational criminal gang members and others associated with transnational criminal activity, like drug trafficking, human smuggling and sex trafficking, murder and racketeering. The nationwide operation was led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and concluded March 21.
Texas statewide arrests during this operation totaled 266 individuals. In the Houston area of responsibility (AOR), HSI made 112 arrests. Of these arrests, 66 were made in the Corpus Christi – area. Within the AOR, 96 were arrested on active Texas criminal warrants, with 12 cases being pursued federally. Members and associates were arrested from 26 gang affiliations.
“This operation is the latest example of ICE’s ongoing efforts, begun more than a decade ago under Operation Community Shield, to target violent gang members and their associates, to eradicate the violence they inflict upon our communities and to stop the cash flow to transnational organized crime groups operating overseas,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña.
Since the inception of Operation Community Shield in February 2005, HSI special agents, working in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, have made more than 40,000 gang-related arrests and seized more than 8,000 firearms.
Project Shadowfire was a surge operation conducted under Operation Community Shield, and led by the HSI National Gang Unit. Between Feb. 15 and March 21, HSI special agents worked with numerous state, local and federal law enforcement partners, including ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), to apprehend individuals from various gangs.
Most of the individuals arrested during Project Shadowfire were U.S. citizens, but 239 foreign nationals from 13 countries in Central America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean were also arrested. Most of the U.S. citizens arrested had open warrants for their arrest and were turned over to the custody of local law enforcement agencies.
Following is the nationality breakdown of the 239 foreign nationals arrested: Mexico (129), El Salvador (56), Honduras (22), Dominican Republic (11), Guatemala (9), India (3), Jamaica (2), Philippines (2), and one arrest each for Belize, China, Morocco, Peru and Spain.
Of the 1,133 arrests, 915 were gang members and associates, 1,001 were charged with criminal offenses and 132 were arrested administratively for immigration violations. Some of those arrested on immigration violations had illegally re-entered the United States after having been previously deported, which is a felony.
The majority of arrestees were affiliated with gangs like MS-13, Sureños, Norteños, Bloods and several prison-based gangs. Enforcement actions occurred around the country, with the greatest activity taking place in the Los Angeles, San Juan, Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston, and El Paso areas.
HSI special agents also seized 150 firearms, more than 20 kilograms of narcotics and more than $70,000 in U.S currency.