Chicago – U.S. authorities arrested 792 people belonging to 28 transnational gangs dedicated to human trafficking, weapons and drug distribution in an operation in 150 cities in the United States and Honduras.
"Project Nefarious" was launched in February and resulted in arrests carried out between April 9-21, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.
The arrested people come from 33 countries in Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Of the total, 720 are men and the rest are women.
"The goal of the project is to identify, locate, arrest, process and remove gang members and people associated with human, weapons and drug trafficking," James Dinkins, ICE's executive associate director of Homeland Security Investigations, said.
The transnational gangs, ICE says, have a significant number of foreign members and are frequently involved in crimes along the border with Mexico that also include the illegal transfer of large sums of money and smuggling other types of contraband.
According to the authorities, the criminal activities carried out by members in one country are planned, directed and controlled by gang leaders in another country who are constantly moving and adapting to new areas.
And like any street gang, these bands also are prone to violence and their members commit robberies, extortion, assaults, rapes and murders.
In enumerating the results of Operation Community Shield, which since 2005 has led to the arrests of more than 25,000 gang members with criminal records, ICE emphasized the threat from the transnational gangs to public safety in the United States.
In Chicago, for example, the Latin Kings have some 18,000 members and have been operating for about 30 years, dividing the city and suburbs with other dangerous groups like the Imperial Gangsters, Spanish Gangster Disciples, Latin Blood, The Thugs, Latin Counts and Sureños 13.
Mara Salvatrucha, known as MS-13, and Mara 18 are mentioned as the main transnational gangs due to their links with Mexico and Central America, as well as their financial goals and political power.
A report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, confirmed that these gangs participate in criminal activities normally associated with better organized and more sophisticated criminal groups.