Federal agents arrested 976 suspected gang members across scores of American cities during a major operation that spanned from late February through the month of March, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) announced Wednesday.
Headed by the ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, the six-week campaign, called Project Wildfire, targeted members of 239 different gangs in 282 cities, with the heaviest focus on Los Angeles, Detroit, Dallas and El Paso, Texas. San Juan, Puerto Rico, was also highly targeted.
“Criminal gangs inflict violence and fear upon our communities, and without the attention of law enforcement, these groups can spread like a cancer,” said ICE director Sarah Saldaña in a statement.
The majority of the people arrested were U.S. citizens, however, the ICE said 199 were foreign nationals.
Of the 976 alleged gang members arrested 913 were charged with criminal offenses, including 19 suspected of murder and an additional 15 suspected of rape or sexual assault.
In addition to the arrests, officials confiscated 82 firearms, 5.2 kg of methamphetamine, 1.5 kg of heroin, 5.6 kg of cocaine and 7.8 kg of marijuana. They seized $379,399 in cash and an estimated $547,534 worth of counterfeit goods.
The operation was part of global initiative called Operation Community Shield that targets transnational street gangs.