Using immigration and customs powers to target gang bangers is a great idea. Let’s see more of it

A total of 37 foreign nationals with ties to violent street gangs in this area are facing deportation this morning following a three-day enforcement operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The arrests were made as part of an ongoing initiative by ICE’s National Gang Unit called “Operation Community Shield.” As part of the initiative, ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the country to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs.

ICE received assistance with the operation from the U.S Marshals Service; the Sheriff’s offices in Carson City and Douglas County; the Nevada Department of Public Safety Adult Probation Division; and from the Regional Gang Unit comprised of officers from the Reno and Sparks police departments and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.

“This operation shows our collective resolve to attack and dismantle the street gangs that are threatening our neighborhoods,” said Daniel Lane, assistant special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations that oversees the agency’s operations in Reno. “ICE will continue to use its unique immigration and customs authorities to target these organizations and combat the violence and intimidation they use to hold our communities hostage to fear.”

All of those taken into custody during the operation were arrested on administrative immigration violations and will be placed in deportation proceedings. They will be held in ICE custody and scheduled for a hearing before an immigration judge.

Many of the aliens arrested during the operation have criminal records, including prior convictions for assault, drug violations, burglary, arson, domestic violence, and battery on a peace officer. Among them was a 27-year-old Salvadoran national with ties to the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang who previously served time in Nevada State Prison for battery with a deadly weapon.

The gang arrests occurred in Reno, Sparks and Carson City. The vast majority of those taken into custody are from Mexico, but the targets also included gang members and gang associates from El Salvador and Nicaragua. ICE agents say those arrested are linked to eight different street gangs operating in the area, including the South Side Locotes, the Tokers and the Infamous Soldiers.

“The Regional Gang Unit appreciates the efforts to remove violent gang offenders from our streets,” said Reno Police Department Deputy Chief Jim Johns. “These efforts make our neighborhoods safer for all of our residents.”

“Operation Community Shield” is a force multiplier that allows for overlapping jurisdictions to provide each other with the most current and aggressive intelligence to target crime,” said Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong. “This type of inter-agency cooperation and joint response helps to eliminate barriers, create efficiency and produce positive results.”

Since Operation Community Shield began in February 2005, ICE agents nationwide have arrested more than 13,000 gang members and associates linked to more than 900 different gangs. More than 150 of those arrested were gang leaders.

The National Gang Unit at ICE identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities.

Through Operation Community Shield, the federal government uses its powerful immigration and customs authorities in a coordinated, national campaign against criminal street gangs in the United States. Transnational street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-born members and are frequently involved in human and contraband smuggling, immigration violations and other crimes with a connection to the border.

To report suspicious activity, call ICE’s 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1-866-347-2423 or visit