25 SA gang members arrested in ICE-led nationwide operation

Project Shadowfire nets 1,133 arrests in US

SAN ANTONIO – A five-week nationwide operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement resulted in the arrests of 25 gang members in San Antonio, authorities said.

According to an ICE news release, Project Shadowfire netted 1,133 arrests, including more than 900 transnational criminal gang members and others accused of being associated with criminal activity, including drug trafficking, human smuggling and sex trafficking, murder and racketeering.

Eleven arrests were made in the Rio Grande Valley.

"This operation is the latest example of ICE's ongoing efforts, begun more than a decade ago under Operation Community Shield, to target violent gang members and their associates, to eradicate the violence they inflict upon our communities and to stop the cash flow to transnational organized crime groups operating overseas," ICE Director Sarah R. Saldana said.

The majority of the suspects arrested were affiliated with MS-13, Surenos, Nortenos, Bloods and several prison-based gangs, Saldana said. She said the 25 people arrested in South Texas are suspected members of Tango Orejon, Sureno 13, Paisa, Barrio La Colonia, Lincoln Court Kings, Rigsby Court Gangsters/Bloods, Denver Heights Bloods, Aryan Brotherhood, Valluco, Mexican Mafia and Gulfo del Cartel.

Most of the individuals arrested during Project Shadowfire were U.S. citizens who had open arrest warrants. Also arrested were 239 foreign nationals from 13 countries in Central America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. 

The arrests were for a variety of offenses from prostitution to burglary and drug dealing according to Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden.

Project Shadowfire was a surge operation conducted under Operation Community Shield and led by the Homeland Security Investigations National Gang Unit. Between Feb. 15 and March 21, HSI special agents worked with numerous state, local and federal law enforcement partners, including ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations, to apprehend individuals from various gangs.

“Several individuals arrested were members of the Tango Orejon gang,” Folden said. “There was also one member of the Mexican Mafia.”

He said that teamwork makes a huge difference in the success on projects of this nature.

“We certainly had an impact on the local communities,” he said. “You’re taking about 25 individuals – criminals – who are removed from the community.”

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David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.

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