Federal agents continued efforts this week to work with local and state officials on arresting illegal immigrants involved in gang activity.

Operation Community Shield resulted in 15 arrests in St. George this week, said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Lines of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Salt Lake office. The arrests were a continuation of an enforcement effort announced earlier this week that netted 50 such arrests in Utah County and Ogden over the past two months.

"Gang violence is a burgeoning problem, it is something that is on the increase," Lines said. "There is an increase in trans-national gangs ... Immigration authority is a very important and effective tool for being proactive with (removing) these gangs, rather than wait for them to offend."

Operation Community Shield is an established national effort, Lines said, and the recent arrests represent the first time Utah's federal, state and local agencies have worked together on it.