June 25, 1:56 AM
Accused gang members from Union City, West New York and elsewhere around the state were rounded up as part of a series of ongoing nationwide raids led by federal immigration officials.
Forty-two of those arrested by Newark-based agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) include purported members of the MS-13, Sureno 13, DDP, Trinitarios, Gran Familia Mexicana, Los Pitufos and Bloods street gangs.
Of those, 33 were illegally in the country and now face deportation, said officials from ICE, the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security.
They came to the U.S. from El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Philippines, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, officials said.
"The Union City Police Department is very happy with our long-term, ongoing working relationship with ICE, which has resulted in the apprehension and removal of many criminal street gang members who are in our community illegally," said Capt. Brian Barrett, the city's investigative division commander.
"We look forward to many more cooperative operations with ICE in the future," Barrett said.
The natiowide operation, dubbed "Community Shield," has netted nearly 13,000 gang members -- belonging to hundreds of different crews -- since February 2005.
Of the 12,968 arrested, 5,029 have violent criminal histories and 4,953 have criminal violations, federal authorities said.
More than 2,300 belonged to MS-13, the gang that prompted the federal initiative in the first place.
As ICE officials pointed out, transnational street gangs are comprised mostly of foreign-born members who trade in human smuggling, drug dealing and other crimes.
The basic idea for ICE is to become a "force multiplier" that allows various jurisdictions to share information aimed at scooping up large numbers of street gang members.
As one official put it, the inter-agency cooperation and joint raids help "eliminate barriers, create efficiency and produce positive results." "ICE has unique immigration and customs law enforcement authorities which complement the authorities of our federal, state and local partners," said Peter T. Edge, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Newark. "ICE is determined to remove dangerous gang members and their associates from our streets, making our communities a safer place to work and live."
The National Gang Unit at ICE identifies violent street gangs and develops intelligence on their membership, associates, criminal activities and international movements.
Several times recently, units in different parts of the country have moved in, seizing cash, weapons and other assets while hauling dozens of alleged offenders off for hearings.
Recent raids in Reno, Nevada, and Greeley, Colorado have yielded similar results.
Participating in the New Jersey operation were the Union City Police Department, Morris County Park Police, Bound Brook Police Department, Red Bank Police Department, Long Branch Police Department, West New York Police Department, Somerset County Prosecutor's Office and Hudson County Prosecutor's Office.
Among those captured in this area were:
* Javier Castro, 24, a member of the MS-13 street gang, who was charged under New Jersey law for aggravated assault and possession of a weapon.
* Moises Cabrera, 19, a member of the Trinitario street gang, who was charged under New Jersey law for Theft of property.
* Christian Garro-Chavez, 25, who was arrested for being unlawfully present in the United States, but was wanted in Costa Rica for murder/manslaughter and sexual abuse of a child.
* Israel Nocelotl, 20, member of the Los Pitufos street gang, who was arrested for aggravated assault and being unlawfully present in the United States.
* Mario Onorio, 22, member of the Los Pitufos street gang, was arrested for an outstanding NCIC warrant for aggravated assault and being unlawfully present in the United States.
PHOTO: Courtesy of ICE: http://www.ice.gov/