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MS-13 crackdown nets over 200 arrests, some on LI, federal officials say

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in conjunction with U.S.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), conducted Operation Raging Bull on Long Island on Oct. 31, 2017. Credit: I.C.E. / Keith Gardner

Thirty-eight Long Island residents were among more than 200 MS-13 members arrested on a variety of charges and immigration violations across the country in the latest crackdown on the street gang, federal officials said Thursday.

Of the 214 MS-13 members arrested nationally, the largest number were found on Long Island, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It was the lead federal agency in “Operation Raging Bull” that took place between Oct. 8 and Nov. 11.

An earlier phase yielded 53 arrests in El Salvador in cooperation with that country’s national police, after an 18-month investigation that concluded in September.

A senior official with Homeland Security Investigations, the investigative arm of ICE, said 93 of the alleged gang members would face federal or state criminal charges, while 121 were arrested on administrative immigration violations, meaning the agency would seek to remove them from the United States. No detailed list of related prosecutions was disclosed, but the official cited charges ranging from driving under the influence to murder conspiracy.

Thomas Homan, ICE’s deputy director, said this operation underscored the federal government’s focus on targeting and dismantling MS-13, a priority of President Donald Trump.

“In their relentless effort to expand gang membership and gain traction within our communities, they aggressively target our children in the schools. The violence they perpetrate is shocking and shows no remorse or even a basic respect to human life,” Homan said during a news conference in Washington, D.C. “Eliminating this threat is one of our highest priorities at ICE.”

Long Island topped Baltimore’s 35 arrests and Los Angeles’ five arrests. Two of the arrests took place in New York City and one was in the Hudson Valley, ICE said.

This region has become the focus of federal law enforcement efforts against the gang after a series of gruesome killings and violent assaults, particularly since 2016. The violent group with roots in Los Angeles and El Salvador has followed immigrants fleeing violence in their home countries.

Of those arrested in the nationwide operation, 198 are foreign nationals and 16 are U.S. citizens, federal officials said. Only 5 of those born abroad had legal status and 64 had crossed the border illegally as minors, they said.

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