In 2005, U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE) unleashed a program known as “Operation Community Shield.” This global initiative, enacted “to combat the growth and rapid increase of transnational criminal street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs around the world,” is responsible for more than 40,000 gang-related arrests and the seizure of over 8,000 firearms. Under this program, ICE launched an operation called Project Shadowfire between February 15 and March 21. Over a span of five weeks, ICE agents have busted more than 1,000 international gang members and affiliates.
According to ICE, a total of 1,133 arrests were made for involvement in drug trafficking, human smuggling, sex trafficking murder and racketeering. The locations that saw the most action were Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, El Paso, Atlanta and San Juan. Out of those arrested, more than 900 were “transnational criminal gang members.” ICE agents arrested 239 foreign nationals from 13 different countries in Central America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. Over $70,000, 20 kilos of narcotics, and 150 firearms were seized during the sting.
The majority of the arrestees were affiliated with well-known gangs such as MS-13, Surenos, Nortenos, Bloods and prison-based gangs. According to ICE, 1,001 arrestees were charged with criminal offenses and 132 were arrested for immigration violations.