Federal immigration agents arrested 16 Marylanders, most of them allegedly gang members, officials said, in a month-long enforcement surge named Project Shadowfire.
The surge targeted international gangs. The Marylanders arrested were members of the violent Hispanic gangs MS-13, Eighteenth Street and Sureños, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said in a news release about the arrests.
Those arrested included a person in Cockeysville wanted for the rape of a minor, a person in Bethesda wanted for tampering with a witness, and a person in Wheaton wanted for attempted murder, the agency said. Officials did not name the 16 arrested in Maryland.
More than 1,000 people were arrested throughout the country in the surge Feb. 15 to March 18, officials said. Agents targeted those involved in drug trafficking, human smuggling, sex trafficking, murder and racketeering.
Homeland Security Investigations agents in Baltimore with Montgomery County Police also arrested a member of MS-13 wanted for conspiracy to commit murder in Boston. They arrested another member wanted for assault with a deadly weapon in Addison, Texas, officials said.
The enforcement surge was part of an international initiative launched in 2005 to disrupt the gangs. Since then, agents working in Operation Community Shield have made more than 40,000 gang-related arrests and seized more than 8,000 guns, officials said.
"These organizations find the vulnerable and the weak in our neighborhoods and exploit them for personal gain," said Andre Watson, the agent in charge of Baltimore for Homeland Security Investigations. "Targeting members and affiliates of these gangs will always be a top priority."