The federal government arrested 1,133 people nationwide as part of a massive multi-year sting operation called Project Shadowfire.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) special agents worked with state law enforcement agencies to arrest over a thousand people, which included more than 900 transnational gang members.

Most of the offenders, including those living in Colorado, were affiliated with gangs like MS-13, Sureños, Norteños, Bloods and several prison-based gangs.  Ten Colorado residents were rounded up as part of the sting.

Federal Conspiracy to Sell Drugs, Firearms, and Human Trafficking

The operation, called “Project Shadowfire,” was led by Homeland Security’s National Gang Unit as a part of a program that was established in 2005 to combat the growth of gangs that operate across state lines. As part of the operation, federal authorities targetted gang members who were involved in drug and sex trafficking, human smuggling, murder and racketeering.

“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 trans-national organized-crime groups operating overseas,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña.

Since the inception of Operation Community Shield in 2005, Homeland Security has worked in conjunction with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to make more than 40,000 gang-related arrests and seized more than 8,000 firearms.

Although approximately 1000 people were arrested for criminal acts, such as drug distribution, about 132 people were arrested simply for immigration violations.  Although these particular charges haven’t yet been specifically disclosed, they probably relate to immigration status or illegal re-entry into the United States.  For this smaller number of defendants, immigration court awaits.

As bad as immigration court is, it is a better result that criminal court, which is where over 1000 defendants will be heading.