More than 1,300 arrested in nationwide gang operation

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Hundreds of gang members have been arrested across the country as a result of a six-week anti-gang operation.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 1,378 were arrested across the U.S., the largest gang surge conducted by Homeland Security Investigations.

Officials say 1,098 were arrested on federal and/or state criminal charges, including 21 arrests for murder-related charges and seven for rape and sexual assault charges.

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Nearly 300 were arrested on administrative immigration violations. Of the 1,378 arrested, 933 were U.S. citizens and 445 were foreign nationals from more than two dozen countries.

"Gangs threaten the safety of our communities, not just in major metropolitan areas but in our suburbs and rural areas, too," said ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan. "Gang-related violence and criminal activity present an ongoing challenge for law enforcement everywhere. Our efforts to dismantle gangs are much more effective in areas where partnership with local law enforcement is strongest."

Of the total arrests, 1,095 were confirmed gang members and affiliates including 137 Bloods, 118 Surenos, 104 MS-13 and 104 Crips.

The rest of the 283 did not have any gang ties.

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"Ten individuals arrested during this operation crossed the border as unaccompanied minors. Nine of the 10 were confirmed as gang members, eight of whom were MS-13 gang members," according to the press release.

HSI and its partner law enforcement agencies seized 238 firearms, various drugs including nearly 800 ounces of cocaine, more than 540 ounces of methamphetamine, more than 113 ounces of heroin, 1.59 ounces of fentanyl and 8,019.46 ounces of marijuana. They also seized $491,763.

Officials said the greatest activity of enforcement actions took place in Houston, New York, Atlanta and Newark areas.

Homeland Security officials based in Houston say 207 people were arrested in Houston and the surrounding 50 counties. Of those, the majority were U.S. citizens who are allegedly involved in transnational gang activity.

"Over the last six weeks we've been working with our state and local partners and the Texas Anti-Gang Center in developing targets and looking at specific areas in the community that had gang issues and problems and violence and target those areas, and clean up the streets," said Sean McElroy, Deputy Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security in the greater Houston area.

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