Nearly 1,000 gang members and associates, including 22 people from the Las Vegas area, have been arrested by federal agents in a nationwide investigation that targeted transnational criminal gangs.
The six-week investigation, dubbed Project Wildfire, was spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Project Wildfire, which ran from Feb. 23 to March 31, led to the arrests of people tied to more than a dozen street gangs in the Las Vegas area, including Hustlers Taking Over (HTO) and Public Enemy Number One, according to an ICE news release Wednesday.
All 22 of those taken into custody in the Las Vegas Valley are being prosecuted on criminal charges, primarily for state offenses, including drug, weapons and parole violations, the release said.
In Las Vegas, the Project Wildfire arrests included a 23-year-old HTO member on state drug and weapons charges and a 22-year-old Del Monico Crips gang member on a felony warrant for home invasion.
“Criminal gangs inflict violence and fear upon our communities and without the attention of law enforcement, these groups can spread like a cancer,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “That’s why ICE works with law enforcement partners around the country to stamp out gang activity wherever it takes place.”
The latest gang sweep was part of HSI’s Operation Community Shield, a global initiative HSI set up to collaborate with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to combat the growth and proliferation of transnational criminal street gangs, prison gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs, the ICE release said.
Through its domestic and international Operation Community Shield task forces, HSI leverages its worldwide presence and expansive statutory and civil enforcement authorities to mitigate the threats posted by these global networks, often through the tracing and seizing of cash, weapons and other illicit proceeds.
Since its inception in 2005, the release said, investigators participating in Operation Community Shield have arrested more than 36,000 street gang members and associates linked to more than 2,600 different gangs. At least 46 percent of those arrested had a violent criminal history.
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