Local agencies help with statewide gang roundup

Published 4:46 pm Thursday, January 28, 2010

A pair of Shelby County law enforcement agencies recently aided federal and state officials in arresting 27 suspected gang members throughout the state.

The Pelham Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office provided manpower, booking facilities and other help to agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as they executed a four-day operation targeting suspected gang members.

Of the 26 men and one woman arrested during the operation, which was part of the ICE National Gang Unit’s Operation Big Freeze, one was booked into the Pelham Jail and placed with a federal administrative detainer for illegal re-entry to the country and for being an ICE fugitive, according to an ICE press release.

Six men were turned over to the U.S. Marshal’s Service on federal weapons charges, one man was turned over to the Marshals on illegal re-entry charges, five men and one woman were released pending a hearing before an immigration judge and others were apprehended by law enforcement agencies elsewhere in Alabama.

As of Jan. 28, the federal immigration agency had not released details of the charges filed against those arrested in the operation.

Operation Big Freeze is part of ICE’s Operation Community Shield, which targets suspected foreign-born gang members across the country.

Those arrested in the Alabama operation are believed to have ties to the violent gangs Sureno-13, La Quemada, Legion Negra, Malditos and Nortenos.

“Street gangs account for a significant amount of crime nationally and locally,” wrote Michael Holt, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in New Orleans, which has jurisdiction over Alabama.

“ICE works closely with our local law enforcement partners to identify, locate and arrest these gang members to thwart criminal activity in our communities,” Holt added. “Ultimately, ICE departs them.”