More than 160 people in the greater Los Angeles area were arrested over five days in a “surge” operation targeting immigrants with felony records and fugitives, federal officials said Friday, pushing back on reports a day earlier of widespread random raids — reports that officials called “dangerous” and “irresponsible.”
“While this week’s operation was an enforcement surge, the focus was no different than the routine, targeted arrests carried out by ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams on a daily basis,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said in a statement Friday.
Officials began the operation on Monday and concluded it at noon Friday, but not after rounding up 150 — of the 160 total — who had criminal histories in a six-county area that included 55 communities, according to ICE.
• PHOTOS: Officials and immigrants speak out against ICE raids
The operation targeted criminal aliens who re-entered the country illegally or who were fugitives.
Of the 150 who had criminal histories, their records included felony convictions for serious offenses such as child sex crimes, weapons charges and assaults, according to ICE.
Those arrested included immigrants from a dozen countries — and 95 percent were men, ICE said.
Officials said their cases will be presented to the U.S. attorney’s office for prosecution.
Among those arrested, according to ICE:
• A Salvadoran national who was allegedly part of the MS-13 gang. He was arrested in Huntington Park and was wanted in his native country for aggravated extortion, ICE said.
• A Brazilian national arrested in L.A. and wanted in Brazil for alleged cocaine trafficking.
• An Australian national from West Hollywood. He was wanted on suspicion of lewd acts with a child.
The announcement from ICE followed a night of protests after widespread reports of sweeps across Southern California from San Bernardino to Van Nuys.
Immigration advocates called for the immediate release of the detainees along with more transparency from ICE.
But ICE pushed back on how those reports spread, saying that the “reports of random sweeps are false, dangerous and irresponsible,” adding that they put law enforcement personnel and communities in unneeded danger.
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