September 3, 2008
FT. MYERS. Fla. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Fort Myers and the Collier County Sheriff's Office 287 (g) authorized deputies arrested 25 criminal aliens and documented street gang members following a two-day enforcement operation targeting criminal aliens and street gang members in the Naples area.
"Our partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies are essential to further strengthen our mission in enforcing immigration laws and protecting our communities from public safety threats," said Robert Weber, special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Tampa. "We look forward to continued success in working with the Collier County Sheriff's Office and other local law enforcement partners to identify and arrest those foreign nationals who are here illegally and preying on our residents."
"Our most important job at the Sheriff's Office is to keep Collier County safe," said Sheriff Don Hunter of the Collier County Sheriff's Office. "The Agency's partnership with ICE has helped us remove countless criminal aliens from our streets, including the 25 that were apprehended in this operation. Once again the value of our partnership with ICE has proven itself."
On August 28 and 29, teams of ICE agents and officers from the Collier County Sheriff's Office administratively arrested the 25 individuals for immigration violations. Of those arrested, the Task Force members identified two documented gang members affiliated with "La Raza" and "Sur 13" gangs and a registered sex offender.
In September 2007, the Collier County Sheriff's Office was granted immigration enforcement authority under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). ICE Office of Investigations in Fort Myers oversees the task force agents whose duties include the investigation and identification of criminal aliens within Collier County, Florida.
Criminal aliens are non-citizens who have committed felonies or other crimes that make them ineligible to remain in the United States in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Additionally, criminal aliens who are potentially removable include lawful permanent residents (such as holders of a U.S. Permanent Resident Card) who are convicted of a removable offense as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). All 25 individuals were arrested on immigration charges including lawful permanent residents with criminal convictions, who are amenable to removal from the United States. The immigration violators arrested during this operation, who have not already been ordered removed, have been charged with immigration violations and placed into removal proceedings. They await hearings before an immigration judge.
Some of the criminal histories associated with these individuals include battery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, felony drug trafficking, burglary, felony drug possession, carrying a concealed firearm, battery on a law enforcement officer, domestic violence, lewd/lascivious battery and battery on a pregnant woman. All the individuals arrested are being held in ICE custody pending their deportation proceedings. Additionally, two of the arrested illegal aliens were found to be in possession of a firearm and are pending federal criminal charges.
Those arrested are from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, Haiti, Bahamas, St. Lucia, and Suriname.
Among those arrested include:
The 287 (g) program permits state and local law enforcement agencies' designated officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions, pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), provided that the local law enforcement officers receive appropriate training and function under the supervision of sworn U.S. ICE officers.
The program enables deputies to determine the immigration status of those encountered during the normal course of duties and to initiate removal proceedings for those found to be in the country illegally. Jail enforcement officers are able to interview foreign national inmates in the county's correctional facilities to determine whether there is probable cause for an immigration violation. Under the program, the deputies will complete the processing of any criminal aliens and prepare documentation to place those aliens in deportation proceedings.
More information about ICE's 287(g) program is available at: www.ice.gov/partners/287g/Section287_g.htm.
-- ICE --