Operation Matador Nabs 475 Gang Members in N.Y. City Area

99 are unaccompanied minors

By Preston Huennekens on April 4, 2018

Operation Matador is a joint law enforcement initiative that uses the resources of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and local police departments to target MS-13 gang activity in the New York City metropolitan area.

A recent ICE press release announced that since May 2017, Operation Matador has led to the arrest of 475 gang members and associates. The operation specifically targeted MS-13, but 15 of those arrested are members of MS-13's primary rival, the 18th Street Gang.

Of the 475 arrests, 227 were criminal arrests and 248 were administrative immigration arrests. This supports existing evidence, which suggests that many MS-13 gang members are illegal aliens.

Those arrested were overwhelmingly male (462) and a plurality were from El Salvador (199). The majority of those arrested were apprehended in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island. The charts below list the national origin and arresting jurisdiction of the gang members:

Country of Origin Gang Members
El Salvador 199
Honduras 56
Mexico 31
Guatemala 27
Ecuador 25
Dominican Republic 21
St. Lucia 1
Country of Origin unknown 115

Jurisdiction Gang Members
Nassau County 210
Suffolk County 177
Queens 36
Brooklyn 12
Bronx 18
Spring Valley 19
Other States 3

MS-13 has seen a resurgence in the United States since the 2012 boom of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border. Almost 21 percent (99) of those arrested in Operation Matador entered the country illegally as unaccompanied alien children (UACs). This supports CIS research, which shows that many MS-13 members entered the country as UACs.

Sixty-four of the UACs arrested in this operation held Special Immigrant Juvenile status. SIJ provides green cards to UACs who "have been subject to state juvenile court proceedings related to abuse, neglect, or abandonment."

Separately, 65 of those arrested in the operation were ordered released by an immigration judge. The ICE report lists that four of these were subsequently re-arrested for committing additional crimes.

Operation Matador is a successful example of targeted enforcement against dangerous transnational gangs in our communities. Operation Matador falls under the national gang enforcement effort, Operation Community Shield, which is responsible for 5,000 criminal arrests and over 3,200 administrative immigration arrests.

President Trump targeted MS-13 early in his term, vividly describing the terror they have brought to communities and vowing to crack down on the deadly street gang. The continued success of initiatives such as Operation Matador serve to weaken and eventually remove the gang's malevolent presence in our schools and neighborhoods.

Topics: Gangs