A five-day operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New Jersey has taken into custody 105 foreign nationals who were in the U.S. illegally. Approximately 80% of those arrested “had prior criminal convictions and/or pending criminal charges,” according to a statement from ICE. ICE did not make clear how the other 20% were included in this operation.
None of the suspects were named, but descriptions of some of them and their crimes were included in the statement. Individuals arrested came from 24 countries around the world, including Canada, Egypt, Guatemala, Korea, Mexico, Poland, and Russia. They were found across the state of New Jersey, and two were arrested in New York. Their ages ranged from 18 to 65 and their crimes varied from fraud to drugs to child abuse to theft.
Four of the individuals arrested had Interpol warrants out for their arrest for crimes they had committed in their home countries. A 59-year-old Korean national was wanted “for the crime of indecent acts by compulsion causing bodily injury,” according to the ICE statement. A 44-year-old Korean national was wanted for distributing psychotropic drugs, a 34-year-old Ecuadorian national was wanted for fraud, and a 54-year-old Russian national was wanted for large-scale fraud.
The operation was overseen by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations and supported by the department’s Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s New Jersey Field Office.
“These outstanding results, which were made possible by our officers and law enforcement partners, highlight the tremendous commitment that ICE ERO has to public safety throughout the state,” John Tsoukaris, Field Office Director of ERO Newark, said in the press release. “Our focus has been and will continue to be on arrests of illegal aliens who have been convicted of serious crimes or those who pose a threat to public safety.”
Several others were arrested for crimes against children, including a 35-year-old Ecuadorian national convicted of forcibly touching a child, a 52-year-old Mexican national had been convicted of “promoting prostitution with a child,” a 34-year-old Honduran national convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, and a 43-year-old Canadian national convicted of selling drugs on school grounds.
Several members of violent gangs were arrested during the operation as well, including at least one member of MS-13. At least one member of the 18th street gang, a rival to MS-13 known as “Barrio 18” in Central America, and a member of the Surenos-13th street gang were arrested.
The week before this bust, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal issued a directive to all state law enforcement agencies limiting what they could provide to ICE. The federal agency, however, said the bust had nothing to do with that directive.
“This operation was pre-planned and not as a result of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Directive last week limiting local and state law enforcement cooperation with ICE. ICE will of necessity have to conduct additional enforcement operations, if local police departments and county jails do not refer criminals and gang members they encounter to ICE for review and possible arrest on immigration violations,” the statement said.