Monday, August 30, 2010

ICE unit recognized for combating gangs in North Carolina

August 27, 2010

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) gang unit in Charlotte, N.C., recently received law enforcement's Special Achievement Award by the North Carolina Gang Investigators Association (NCGIA).

NCGIA recognized the ICE gang unit - officially called the Operation Community Shield Task Force - in the Resident Agent in Charge Office in Charlotte for its success in combating and reducing gang activity throughout the state, and for developing innovative gang enforcement strategies.

"We are honored to receive this award from NCGIA, and we will continue to work with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to disrupt gang activities, and seek aggressive criminal prosecution of gang members in the state and federal court systems for gang-related crimes," said Delbert Richburg, assistant special agent in charge of ICE's HSI office in North Carolina. "We also use our unique investigative authorities to enforce administrative immigration law to place into removal proceedings gang members and their associates who are illegally residing in the United States."

On Oct. 1, 2009, the Operation Community Shield Task Force was established within the ICE-HSI office in Charlotte. This office has investigative authority over 38 counties in western North Carolina to specifically address violent criminal and transnational gangs and firearms violations associated with violent criminal gang activity.

Since that date, the unit has arrested more than 186 gang members, gang associates, and immigration violators encountered in the company of gang members or in residences of gang members at the time of their arrests.

In addition to the arrests, ICE HSI special agents have seized eight handguns with magazines and ammunition (including one handgun used in a gang shooting), two SKS assault rifles, one .22-caliber rifle, seven 12-gauge shotguns (five with sawed off barrels), one machete, one pair of brass knuckles, marijuana, cocaine and false identification.

The Operation Community Shield Task Force has identified numerous transnational gangs operating within the area and linked them to significant violent crimes and narcotics distribution activities in North Carolina and the surrounding states.

The local gang unit has disrupted activity of the following gangs: Malditos, Mara Salvatrucha 13, Blythe, Bosnian Folk Nation, Crips, Bloods, Surenos 13, Vatos Locos, Destroy Everything in Sight, Asian Boyz, Down to Do It, 42nd Little Criminals, Brown Pride, M Zone Rydas, the Mexican Mafia (La Erne), Sugar Loaf Clique 31, and the Wickedside SUR-13 criminal street gangs.

As stated in the award nomination, "The HSI gang unit special agents have made themselves available to assist state and locals with whatever means in which they can be most effective. In addition, the gang unit special agents have been integral in assisting local homicide and robbery divisions and other federal investigative agencies targeting gang members and other violent criminals."

In February 2005, ICE launched Operation Community Shield, a national law enforcement initiative that brings HSI's broad law enforcement authorities to bear in the fight against violent street gangs. Operation Community Shield is part of a comprehensive approach, working with law enforcement partners at the federal, state, local and international levels.

-- ICE --

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