Project Shadowfire

January 5, 2017 OPINION/NEWS

ICE photo



Ricardo Swire

On March 21st, 2016 one segment of a five week law enforcement offensive conducted across America, arrested 1,133 immigrants.

150 illegal guns, more than 20 kilos of drugs and over US$70,000 cash were seized. 239 individuals were detained, which included nationals from thirteen Central America, Asia, Europe and Caribbean countries. Patterns determined that transnational criminal street gangs in America recruit significant numbers of foreign nationals.

Project Shadowfire’s objective was to arrest gang activity in Los Angeles, San Juan, Atlanta, San Francisco, Houston and El Paso, 185 detentions enforced in Los Angeles alone. US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) National Gang Unit’s operation was spearheaded by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents. In February 2005, under “Operation Community Shield,” the HSI’s National Gang Unit launched Project Shadowfire, its motive to support state, local and federal counterparts, with the attack on transnational gang growth in America.

The collaboration resulted in over 40,000 gang related arrests and the seizure of more than 8,000 illicit guns. In 2011 the HSI National Gang Unit orchestrated operation “Southern Tempest” that focused specifically on domestic gangs affiliated with drug trafficking. The team of Special Agents arrested 678 gang members, along with associates from 133 different gangs. Eighty-six guns, eight pounds of methamphetamine, thirty pounds of marijuana, one pound of cocaine, more than US $70,000 currency and two vehicles were confiscated.

Between April 9 and 21, 2012 “Project Nefarious” continued the law enforcement push. Criminal cliques participating in human smuggling and drugs trafficking, across forty-nine American states, the main focus. ICE agents made 767 arrests. Nearly half were immigrants, 25 from Honduras, ten detainees wanted on murder charges. Project Nefarious resulted from a 2011 US Justice Department analysis that indicated mushroomed human smuggling and trafficking gang involvement. Fifty-two guns, approximately 5,500 pounds of marijuana, seven pounds of cocaine, more than US$200,000 cash and fourteen vehicles seized.

HSI’s 2014 “Project Southbound” specifically targeted a vicious prison gang called the Surenos, a criminal entity that pays homage to the Mexican mafia. The gang was America’s fastest expanding transnational group for that era. The Surenos are managed by “shot callers”, prisoners who receive instructions from three particular gang leaders. The inmates unofficially control tier and yard security, as well as jail education. Modern trends indicate one shot caller reports to prison supervisors at each jail. A special note made of detainees housed in the “Deuel Vocational Institution” near Tracy, California.

In 2015, “Project Wildfire” was HSI’s biggest registered offensive against gangland. According to ICE’s March 2016 report two residents of Virginia had drug offences. Six were indicted on firearms charges, three committed immigration violations and one was charged in a gang assault, another with probation breaches. Thirteen detainees were arrested in either Loudoun, Fairfax or Prince William counties. 915 were alleged “gang members and associates” connected to MS13, the Surenos, the Nortenos and Bloods, 1,001 either charged with attempted murder, witness tampering or drugs trafficking.









Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.


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