A known gang member with a prior robbery conviction is among the 218 foreign nationals arrested in the Los Angeles area by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of a five-day operation targeting at-large criminal aliens and public safety threats.
Nationwide, the enforcement action, dubbed Operation Cross Check, resulted in a total of 2,059 persons being taken into custody, with the Southland accounting for the largest number of arrests by any local jurisdiction. Hundreds of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers across the country participated in the operation, which commenced March 1 and concluded late March 5. Those arrested are from 94 countries and more than half have felony convictions, including voluntary manslaughter, child pornography, robbery, kidnapping and rape.
The Los Angeles-area arrests occurred in six counties — Los Angeles (101); Orange (51); San Bernardino (24); Riverside (22); Ventura (16); and Santa Barbara (4). Nearly two-thirds of the foreign nationals taken into custody locally had prior convictions for serious or violent crimes, such as child molestation, grand theft and firearms violations. Fourteen of those arrested had ties to street gangs. While the vast majority of the criminal aliens arrested in the Southland were originally from Mexico (167), a total of 18 countries were represented, including Peru, Egypt, Armenia and South Korea.
Those arrested last week by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams in the Southland include a Mexican national Sureño gang member taken into custody March 3 near his home in Pomona. Databases indicate the 26-year-old man, who has been deported multiple times, has a criminal history dating back eight years, including prior convictions for robbery, willful discharge of a firearm, and false impersonation. The man is now facing prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for felony re-entry after deportation, a violation which carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Also taken into custody locally during Operation Cross Check was a Mexican national male whose case history includes six prior deportations and criminal convictions over the course of three decades for drug offenses, evading a peace officer, carrying a loaded firearm in a public place, grand theft and DUI. After recently serving an 18-month federal sentence for felony re-entry after deportation, the 51-year-old man was transferred to the custody of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office based on an outstanding local arrest warrant. Despite the existence of an ICE detainer, the sheriff’s department released the man onto the street. He was rearrested by ICE Fugitive Operations officers March 4 at his Oxnard residence. He is currently in ICE custody awaiting removal to Mexico.
ICE officials said the Oxnard arrest was not an anomaly. More than one-fourth of the at-large criminal aliens arrested by ICE Fugitive Operations Teams in the Los Angeles area last week had recently been released onto the street by local authorities despite ICE detainer requests. Records checks reveal 59 of the 218 at-large criminal aliens detained by ICE during the enforcement action had been the subject of immigration detainers.
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