Ten gang members arrested in immigration sweep

The Charlotte ObserverApril 2, 2009 

Ten foreign-born gang members were arrested in Concord on Wednesday during a multi-agency operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, officials said.

Seven men and three women with ties to MS-13 and Brown Pride gangs were arrested at their homes in a morning sweep involving 25 officers from five agencies.

All the gang members face immigration violations. Two also face state charges of narcotics violations and obstruction of justice.

Nine are nationals of Mexico and one from El Salvador. ICE will begin removal proceedings on all of them. The federal agency did not release the names of those arrested.

“ICE works closely with other federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to keep our communities safe, which in this case is the removal of criminal gang members and others who threaten the safety of Brockton neighborhoods.” said Delbert Richburg, assistant special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Charlotte.

Transnational gangs are a growing threat as they move their operations into suburban and rural communities, federal officials said.

MS-13 members have been linked to at least four homicides, drug trafficking and extortion in the Carolinas.

The Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office, Concord police, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety's Alcohol Law took part in the investigation.

The arrests began at 5 Wednesday morning. They took place, ICE spokesman Ivan Ortiz said, “without incident.”

The Concord operation was similar to a previous gang bust on Feb. 18 that involved 10 illegal immigrants with ties to five transnational gangs operating in Charlotte.

Both arrests were made as part of Community Shield, a national initiative in which ICE partners with other federal and local law enforcement to target transnational street gangs.

Since ICE began the program Operation Community Shield in February 2005, more than 12,200 gang members belonging to more than 700 different gangs have been arrested nationwide, officials said.

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