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Gang arrests net 29 foreign nationals in Las Vegas, Mesquite

Immigration officials arrested 29 foreign nationals this week in Las Vegas and Mesquite as part of a three-day multi-agency gang enforcement operation.

The arrests were part of an ongoing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement initiative called Operation Community Shield, which targets international street gangs.

The operation began Tuesday. Several agencies assisted, including the Las Vegas and Mesquite police departments and the Nevada Department of Public Safety.

Most of those arrested have criminal histories that include convictions for drug trafficking, weapons possession, kidnapping, home invasion, battery and theft, ICE officials said.

“We are targeting criminal aliens and gang members who are preying on the citizens of Clark County,” said Richard Curry, assistant special agent in charge for ICE’s Office of Investigations in Las Vegas. “We’re trying to make it a bit safer for” those citizens.

Curry said 35 law enforcement officers participated in the arrests of 13 men in Mesquite and 16 men in Las Vegas.

Three of those arrested had already been deported by this afternoon, Curry said. Two others face federal criminal prosecution for re-entering the United States after being deported. The other men are foreign nationals who are being processed for deportation.

They include citizens of Mexico, El Salvador, Afghanistan and the Bahamas. ICE said the 29 men were either gang members or gang associates.

“Street gangs pose a growing public safety threat to communities throughout this area,” said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge for ICE’s Office of Investigations in Las Vegas. “The violence and crime associated with these gangs has reached intolerable levels.”

Since Operation Community Shield began in February 2005, more than 14,000 gang members and gang associates linked to 900 different gangs have been arrested nationwide, ICE said.

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285.

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