An operation carried out by federal immigration officials resulted in the arrest of more than 132 illegal immigrants in Washington and Virginia.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) targeted “notable threats to public safety throughout Virginia and Washington,” calling it “Operation Eagle’s Shield.”
Some of those who were arrested are members of the 18th Street and MS-13 gangs, sex offenders, and violent offenders, ICE said.
ICE officials said in all, 131 men and one woman were arrested. They hail from Bolivia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, and Sudan.
Some of those who were arrested included an El Salvadoran man identified as a high-ranking MS-13 member, a Guatemalan national who was convicted for consensual sexual intercourse with a child, and a Bolivian who had four prior rape convictions.
Officials also arrested a a Peruvian who failed to register as a sex offender and was convicted for battery, a Mongolian who was convicted of driving under the influence as well as forgery, a Philippine national previously convicted of felony possession of a firearm with a controlled substance, and an El Salvadoran who is the subject of a U.S. Marshals arrest warrant for felony assault with a deadly weapon.
“We set out to locate and detain known, dangerous criminal aliens who are hiding and operating in the neighborhoods we call home,” ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Washington Field Office Director Russell Hott said in a news release. “Today’s announcement is the result of the absolutely essential work our ICE officers perform to identify the worst of the worst and ensure they have no refuge here.”
Nine people arrested during the operation have already been deported out of the United States, according to the release.
Officials are now “pursuing criminal charges against 37 of the individuals arrested during Operation Eagle’s Shield for federal offenses like re-entry after removal, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and unlawful possession of a firearm,” said ICE.
Those who aren’t being criminally processed will be processed and removed from the country. Immigrants who illegally returned to the U.S. after being removed and individuals who have “outstanding orders of removal” will be subject to immediate removal, said the agency.
The enforcement operation took place between July 9 and July 20.
In June, illegal border crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border dropped. More than 42,000 individuals were arrested or deemed inadmissible, which is an 18 percent decline over May, which saw 51,905 crossings. That figure is still almost double from June 2017, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).