637 gang members and associates arrested during Project Nefarious ICE and (HSI) announced the arrests of 637 gang members and associates from 168 different gangs during Project Nefarious, an HSI-led operation executed in 150 U.S.
BigNews.Biz - Apr 27,2012 - 637 gang members and associates arrested during Project Nefarious
WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced the arrests of 637 gang members and associates from 168 different gangs during Project Nefarious, an HSI-led operation executed in 150 U.S. cities and Honduras targeting transnational street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs involved with human smuggling and trafficking organizations (HSTOs).
Project Nefarious began in February 2012 with threat assessments, intelligence gathering, information sharing and target identification, which resulted in enforcement operations from April 9 to April 21. Through Project Nefarious, HSI special agents worked side-by-side with 148 federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners to apprehend individuals from 28 gangs affiliated with HSTOs. More than 40 percent of those gang members or associates arrested during this operation were affiliated with gangs tied to HSTOs.
"The goal of Project Nefarious was to identify, locate, arrest, prosecute and remove gang members and associates affiliated with human smuggling and trafficking organizations," said HSI Executive Associate Director James Dinkins. "By ridding our streets of 637 gang members and associates, we are putting a dent in the violence these transnational criminal street gangs bring to our communities."
The impetus for Project Nefarious was the U.S. Department of Justice, National Gang Intelligence Center, National Gang Threat Assessment 2011 report, which identified gangs who are progressively becoming involved with human smuggling and trafficking. The report classified numerous gangs as exceedingly dangerous due to their involvement with cross-border criminal activity linked to human smuggling and trafficking.
Transnational criminal street gangs have significant numbers of foreign-national members and are frequently involved in human smuggling and trafficking; narcotics smuggling and distribution; identity theft and benefit fraud; money laundering and bulk cash smuggling; weapons smuggling and arms trafficking; cyber crimes; export violations and other crimes with a nexus to the border.
Of the 637 gang members or associates arrested;
479 were charged with criminal offenses,
158 were administrative arrests,
210 had violent criminal histories,
10 were wanted for murder, and
290 were foreign nationals.
In addition to the 637 arrests, 155 individuals were arrested for federal and state criminal violations, or administrative immigration violations. Of the 155, 117 were charged with criminal offenses, 58 had violent criminal histories, 38 were administrative arrests and 69 were foreign nationals. In addition to the arrests, during the operation special agents seized 52 firearms, 5,462.6 pounds of marijuana, 6.6 pounds of cocaine, $201,437 in U.S. currency and 14 vehicles.
Arrests during Project Nefarious included:
Carlos Alexander Melgar-Andrede, 22, an El Salvadoran national and associate of MS-13 was arrested in Los Angeles County on rape charges.
Richard Paul Gonzales, 40, a U.S. citizen and member of the Mexikanemi, also known as the Mexican Mafia gang, was arrested in Bexar County, Texas, for indecent exposure to minors and adults. His criminal convictions include aggravated robbery, evading arrest, dangerous conduct and numerous narcotics-related offenses. Pursuant to this arrest, HSI San Antonio seized two pistols and two shotguns.
Rodney Zaid Mejia, Pedro Melendez