NEW YORK – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York, along with ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), announced their recent launch of Operation Matador and the DHS Transnational Organized Crime Initiative (DHS TOCI), which represents a unified effort dedicated to combat the proliferation of MS-13 and other transnational criminal gang activity in the New York City metropolitan area, including Long Island.
A total of 45 individuals were arrested during this ongoing enforcement effort, all of which were confirmed as gang members and affiliates – including 39 affiliated with MS-13, two with the Sureños, one with the 18th Street Gang, one with the Latin Kings, one with Los Niños Malos and one with Patria.
Of the gang members arrested during this ongoing enforcement action, 20 had additional criminal histories, including prior convictions for assault and weapons charges. One has pending felony grand larceny charges and a final order of removal. Others taken into custody during the operation included:
– An El Salvadoran national arrested in Suffolk County with a criminal history of felony assault
– A Honduran national arrested in Suffolk County with a criminal history of menacing with a weapon and disorderly conduct, fighting and violent behavior
– A Mexican national arrested in Suffolk County with a felony possession of a weapon, carrying a loaded weapon and misdemeanor menacing with a weapon
– A Honduran national arrested in Nassau county with a prior conviction of criminal possession of weapon
– An El Salvadoran national arrested in Nassau County with a criminal history of felony attempted assault, disorderly conduct and misdemeanor harassment
– An El Salvadoran national arrested in Suffolk County with a prior felony conviction of criminal possession of a loaded firearm.
The arrestees, all male, included nationals from 4 countries : El Salvador (27), Honduras (11), Mexico (5), and Guatemala (2).
“Transnational gangs like MS-13 bring nothing but violence and conflict to our communities and their presence will not be tolerated. Their vicious criminal activities present an ongoing challenge for law enforcement everywhere,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York. “It is with the efforts of our federal partners under DHS and the incredible assistance provided by our local law enforcement partnerships with Suffolk County and Nassau County Police Departments that we will continue to dismantle these gangs piece by piece to enhance the safety and security of our communities.”
“These individuals are members of a violent street gang actively wreaking havoc in the community. This unified effort is about keeping New York citizens safe,” said Thomas R. Decker, field office director for ERO New York. “ERO and HSI, along with our law enforcement partners, face no limitations in the apprehension and dismantling of transnational criminal organizations. We will not rest until our communities are safer and individuals like these are brought to justice.”
Suffolk County accounted for 33 arrests, the largest number of arrests during this operation to date, but DHS TOCI personnel conducted enforcement actions in multiple communities throughout Long Island and New York City.
Individuals are confirmed as gang members if they admit membership in a gang, have been convicted of violating Title 18 USC 521 or any other federal or state law criminalizing or imposing civil consequences for gang-related activity, or if they meet certain other criteria such as having tattoos identifying a specific gang or being identified as a gang member by a reliable source.
Twelve individuals arrested during this operation crossed the border as unaccompanied minors, all of which were confirmed as MS-13 gang members. Three individuals arrested during this operation entered the United States with Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ), all of which were confirmed as MS-13 gang members. Of the 12 UACs, two had SIJ status.
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