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ICE Unveils Arrest Count In Latest MS-13 Crackdown

A federal agent escorts one of the suspected MS-13 gang members and associates arrested during Operation Raging Bull.
(Photo couresty of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)
A federal agent escorts one of the suspected MS-13 gang members and associates arrested during Operation Raging Bull.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced results Thursday of a crackdown on members of the international gang Mara Salvatrucha, and five arrests were made in Arizona as part of the sweep dubbed Operation Raging Bull.

Law enforcement arrested 267 suspected members and associates of the group commonly known as MS-13, officials said.

The dragnet played out in two phases. The first phase was in El Salvador, and the most recent was in the United States, where agents arrested 80 percent of people caught in the crackdown.

With the U.S. Attorney General having recently unlocked more tools to use against MS-13, officials promised that Operation Raging Bull is just the beginning.

“This is a great operation,” said Tom Homan, acting director of ICE. “But we are not done, and we will not be done until we totally dismantle this organization.”

Federal prosecutors in Arizona worked on Operation Raging Bull. An ICE spokeswoman said five arrests were made in the state.

The Trump administration has said it wants to close so-called loopholes that let unaccompanied children stay in the U.S.

Officials say nearly a third of the 214 people arrested in the U.S. during Operation Raging Bull entered the country as unaccompanied minors.

Organized crime groups like MS-13 exploit federal policy on unaccompanied minors, or UACs, Homan said.   

“Definitely some of the UACs end up being bad people, and enter the country to do bad things,” Homan said. “That’s why we asked for several policy changes in what we sent to (Capitol) Hill.”

It is unclear if any of the people arrested in Arizona came the U.S. as unaccompanied minors.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.