Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced yesterday that it had completed an international operation to help dismantle the deadly immigrant gang MS-13. "Operation Raging Bull" took place from September to November and utilized ICE, Border Patrol, USCIS, Bureau of Prisons, and other domestic and international law enforcement agencies to identify and arrest members of MS-13.
Of the 267 total arrests, ICE detained 214 in the United States (53 others were arrested in El Salvador). Only 16 of those arrested in the U.S. were U.S. citizens and an additional five had legal authorization to be in the country. The vast majority (over 60 percent) of those detained were from El Salvador, with smaller numbers from Honduras and Mexico.
Sixty-four of those arrested entered the United States as unaccompanied alien children (UACs). There have been significant concerns surrounding the influx of UACs since 2014. In February 2016, my colleague Jessica Vaughan testified to the myriad problems involving the surge of minors across the border. UACs impact resettlement costs, school districts, health care, public safety, and the rule of law. Many UACs claim to immigration officials that they are fleeing their home countries as a result of the gang presence there, and have been allowed into the country to pursue years-long immigration and family court proceedings.
ICE conducted the gang arrests in a variety of localities, including sanctuary communities such as Baltimore, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Earlier this year, ICE netted a total of 498 illegal alien arrests from sanctuary jurisdictions in Operation Safe City.
By hindering ICE's ability to do its job sanctuary jurisdictions facilitate the release of dangerous aliens back into their communities. ICE prioritizes its enforcement operations the same way as any other law enforcement agency: to protect the public. Thus jurisdictions endanger their citizens when they limit and restrict cooperation with ICE. Local law enforcement professionals must follow their locality's sanctuary laws regardless of whether or not they support them.
Referencing the importance of cooperation with local officials, the ICE press release reaffirmed that "Partnerships are key to the success of the agency. Whether on the local, state or federal level, effective collaboration with other law enforcement partners is an essential part of the criminal investigations HSI conducts, such as the recently completed Operation Raging Bull."
It is too early to tell what effects operations such as this will have on MS-13's presence and growth in the United States. The Department of Justice estimates that there are as many as 10,000 MS-13 members across 40 states. Further operations such as Raging Bull will begin to chip away at this gang's operations in the country.