Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests 115 immigrants in Southern California

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested 115 San Diego and Imperial County residents in a three-day sting targeting federal immigration law violators, officials said Friday.

Among the group were 50 convicted criminals and seven people who re-entered the United States after being deported. All but seven of the arrests took place in San Diego County, according to ICE.

Those arrested include a Center Street Locos Gang member in Oceanside who had been deported four previous times. He had multiple criminal convictions including grand theft, controlled substance for sale, and driving under the influence.

A Kazakhstan citizen wanted by authorities in that country on charges of tax evasion and embezzlement was taken into custody in Oceanside. Interpol had issued a ‘Red Notice’ arrest warrant for him in November.

Another high-profile arrest included a Mexican citizen who had served a federal prison term in 2009 after being convicted of illegal re-entry after deportation.  Officials said he had three criminal convictions for spousal abuse and had previously been removed from the U.S. to Mexico on ten prior occasions.  

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An immigrant who illegally reenters the United States after having been previously removed faces a felony prison term of up to 20 years, according to ICE. Four of the people arrested in the sting will face federal criminal prosecution for illegal re-entry after deportation. Those who are not facing federal charges may be immediately removed from the United States.

“This week’s operation targeted public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens, individuals with final orders of removal, those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed, and individuals who have otherwise violated our nation’s immigration law,” said Greg Archambeault, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in San Diego. 

The three-day sting comes after a report in the Los Angeles Times indicating more immigrants with no criminal history were arrested by San Diego's Immigration and Customs Enforcement from October to December 2017 than anywhere else in the country. ICE officers arrested 1,622 people without criminal records, and 637 people with criminal records in San Diego during the first fiscal quarter of 2018, according to the LA Times.

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ICE said there are public safety targets who have not yet been arrested, including a Mexican citizen convicted of statutory rape and sex with a minor in 2012 and a known gang associate convicted of domestic violence in 2010. Both men had been previously removed from the U.S.

In a news release, ICE officials cited California state laws that affect the way the agency operates.

While the vast majorities of cities in America do cooperate with ICE, state laws in California force ICE to focus additional resources to conduct at-large arrest in the community, putting officers, the general public and aliens at greater risk and increase the incidents of collateral arrests. 

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