After an investigation by U.S. immigration and Central American authorities, more than 200 alleged transnational criminal street gang members and associates were arrested in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras during a 60-day enforcement operation, according to a press release.
The operation was conducted between between May 20 and July 26, said the press release by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The operation, dubbed CAGE – for Central America Gang Enforcement – resulted in 221 arrests and the seizure of four weapons and six vehicles, authorities said.
“The goal of this operation was to collaboratively locate and arrest gang members and associates engaged in transnational crimes,” said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Executive Associate Director James A. Dinkins. “We are committed to working with our foreign law enforcement counterparts on an international level to address gang violence, to protect national security and to ensure public safety in our neighborhoods and the neighborhoods of our friends south of the U.S. border.”
Seven MS-13 and 13 18th Street gang members were arrested in El Salvador, the release said. Eleven 18th Street gang members were arrested in Guatemala. Sixteen MS-13, 64 18th Street, 81 Chirizos and 11 Ultra Fiel gang members, among others, were also arrested.
“This enforcement operation was a good experience, an exercise to exchange experiences, best practices and technology,” said Salvadoran National Police Organized Crime Division Deputy Director Daniel De Jesus Martínez Hernandez. “Hopefully, our partnership with HSI in protecting public safety in El Salvador will be repeated in the future.”
The press release said that transnational criminal street gangs, a growing problem, "have significant numbers of foreign-national members and are frequently involved in human smuggling and trafficking; narcotics smuggling and distribution; identity theft and benefit fraud; money laundering and bulk cash smuggling; weapons smuggling and arms trafficking; cybercrimes; export violations; and other crimes with a nexus to the border."