A man who has been deported four times and a gang leader who recruited children were among the 42 foreign nationals arrested by federal agents during a weeklong crackdown on gangs in Salt Lake City.
The effort marked the largest gang enforcement action in Utah by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement since Operation Community Shield commenced in 2005.
"Anytime we can take a dangerous criminal off the street ... it's extremely successful," said Jonathan Lines, assistant special agent in charge for ICE investigations in Utah. "These people have little regard for authority and little regard for enforcement."
Of the 42 people arrested, more than half will face criminal charges before deportation, Lines said. Those charges include illegal possession of a firearm, drug offenses, burglary, domestic violence and assault with a deadly weapon.
One man was heavily involved in recruiting juvenile gang members on Salt Lake City's west side, Lines said.
Ten people will face federal charges for entering the United States after deportation, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Five of those men had prior convictions for violent crimes and drug offenses. Lines said one man had already been deported as many as four times.
All of the gang members and gang associates arrested during the operation were males. A majority of those arrested were Mexican nationals, officials said. The group also included three foreign nationals from El Salvador and one from both Guatemala and Honduras.Since June, ICE agents have conducted similar operations in Provo, Ogden and St. George. A total of 73 foreign nationals were arrested in those three operations. Lines said ICE officials plan to conduct more operations in the coming months.