Thursday, August 19, 2010

158 Arrested In Utah's Largest Ever ICE-led Gang Enforcement Action

Authorities credit new multi-agency task force for record arrests

August 19, 2010

Salt Lake City, Utah (HNNUSA) - On Thursday, ICE announced that a total of 158 gang members and individuals with gang ties, including many with prior criminal records, are facing new criminal charges or deportation following a four-month, multi-agency anti-gang surge spearheaded by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that represents the largest operation of its kind ever carried out in the state of Utah.
The arrests are the result of a coordinated effort by the new ICE-HSI led Operation Community Shield Task Force (OCSTF) made up of personnel from ICE and five local law enforcement agencies, including the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force, and the police departments of South Salt Lake, Midvale, Ogden and St. George. Utah is one of the first ICE-HSI offices in the nation to establish an OCSTF, along with first ICE-HSI offices in the nation to establish an OCSTF, along with Dallas, Texas; St. Paul, Minn.; and Charlotte, N.C. The aim of the task forces is to leverage ICE's global reach and broad legal authorities with the unique capabilities of other law enforcement agencies to combat the growth and proliferation of transnational criminal street gangs.
The operation involved criminal and administrative immigration arrests in 23 communities statewide, as well as in neighboring West Wendover, Nev.
Of the gang members and gang associates arrested during the enforcement action, 93 are facing prosecution on federal and state criminal charges ranging from solicitation to commit aggravated murder and forcible sexual abuse to drug and firearms violations and re-entry after deportation. A re-entry conviction is a felony that carries a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Individuals currently facing state charges will be referred for federal immigration charges once the state charges are resolved.
Among the gang members facing federal criminal charges is a 28-year old undocumented member of the Surenos-Alley Boys street gang who was previously deported to Mexico in March 2006. Jose Daniel Gil-Velasco was taken into custody by ICE-HSI agents in Provo, Utah, on Aug. 6. Gil-Velasco has a lengthy criminal record, including prior convictions for aggravated assault (two counts), carrying a concealed dangerous weapon and attempted theft. Gil-Velasco is charged federally with re-entry after deportation.
Also facing re-entry after deportation charges is Juan Menchaca-Poban, 26, a member of the Toonersville Rifa 13 street gang, whose criminal history includes prior arrests for retail theft and drug possession, as well as a felony conviction for distributing a controlled substance. Menchaca-Poban was taken into custody by the Salt Lake Metro Gang Unit and ICE-HSI agents in Salt Lake City on June 3. At the time of his arrest, Menchaca-Poban was wanted on an outstanding state criminal warrant for narcotics distribution. Upon completion of his state sentence, Menchaca-Poban will be presented for federal prosecution for felony re-entry after deportation.
Of the 158 gang members and gang associates arrested during the operation, 125 are foreign nationals from the following five countries Argentina, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico and Peru. The group includes 31 individuals who have been previously deported from the United States. The foreign nationals who are not being prosecuted on criminal charges are being processed for removal. A number of them have already been deported to their native countries.
The enforcement action focused on individuals with ties to more than 50 street gangs in four of the state's major metropolitan areas: Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden and St. George. The operation commenced in the Salt Lake City area in early April and culminated last week with arrests in and around Provo, Utah.
In addition to the members of the Community Shield Task Force numerous other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies assisted with the operation. Those agencies include: the U.S. Marshals Service; the Utah Highway Patrol; Utah Adult Probation and Parole; the Washington County Drug and Gang Task Force; the Salt Lake Metro Gang Task Force; the sheriffs' offices in Summit, Cache, Washington and Iron counties; and the police departments in Brigham City, Logan City Tremonton, Santa Clara, Hurricane, Ivins, La Verkin, Orem, Cedar City and Wendover, Nev.

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