Some interesting information was gathered during U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s recent “Project Wildfire” gang sweep.
A total of 976 gang members and associates were arrested from 239 different gangs in 282 cities around the United States. The operation took six weeks and targeted what the authorities call “transnational” gangs.
The idea behind the February 23 to March 31, 2015, effort was to reduce or eliminate the threats posted by global criminal networks, often through the tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other illicit proceeds.
Most of the individuals arrested during Project Wildfire were U.S. citizens, but 199 foreign nationals were also brought in, from 18 countries in South and Central America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean.
In addition to the 976 gang bangers, 231 other individuals were collared on federal or state criminal and immigration violations, bringing the arrest total to 1,207. Of the total 1,207 arrested, 1,057 were males and 150 females.
The majority of arrestees were affiliated with the Sureños, Norteños, Bloods, Crips, Puerto Rican-based gangs and several prison-based gangs.
Enforcement actions took place around the country, with the greatest activity happening in the San Juan, Dallas, El Paso, Los Angeles and Detroit areas.
Project Wildfire highlights include:
- In Puerto Rico and central Florida, 46 members of the Zorrilla criminal organization were arrested for various charges of manufacturing and distributing narcotics, money laundering and other related criminal activity.
- In Lubbock, Texas, agents and officers arrested 122 known or suspected gang members and associates from the Bloods, Crips Rollin 60s, Mexican Mafia, Sureños, West Texas, Raza Unida, Aryan Brotherhood, White Aryan Resistance, West Side, Gangster Disciples, Peckerwood, Texas Syndicate and West Texas Tango.
- In the Detroit area, officers arrested 89 gang members and associates with ties to gangs such as the Latin Counts, Folk Nation, Sureños and Atherton Terrace.
- In the Chicago area, 30 gang members and affiliates with ties to the Sureños 13, Latin Kings, La Raza, Conservative Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, 4 Corner Hustlers, Maniac Latin Disciples and the Vice Lords were hauled in.
- In California’s Imperial Valley, agents arrested 28 individuals, including 10 documented gang members of the Brole, North Side Centro, West Side Centro, South Side Centro and Pilgrim Street gangs.
Law enforcement seized 82 firearms, 5.2 kilograms of methamphetamine, 7.8 kilograms of marijuana, 5.6 kilograms of cocaine, 1.5 kilograms of heroin, $379,399 in U.S currency, counterfeit merchandise with a retail price of $547,534 and five vehicles.