Federal agents have arrested 2,059 foreign convicted criminals during a five-day nationwide dragnet by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 117 of them in South Florida.
The South Florida arrests took place in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, officials announced Monday. Another 56 foreign nationals were arrested in other parts of Florida and in Puerto Rico, said Marc Moore, director of the ICE Miami field office, which includes Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Those arrested have already served their time and are now going to be deported or placed in deportation proceedings, Moore said. They were picked up by ICE officials as part of the five-day Cross Check Operation — the sixth such operation ICE has undertaken since 2011.
The other arrests in Florida were carried out in the counties of Orange, Manatee, Duval, St. Lucie, Indian River, Seminole, Lake, Sarasota, Polk, Martin, Lee, Hillsborough, Brevard, DeSoto, Hendry, Levy, Marion and Pinellas.
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“The cases run the gamut from aggravated felonies, serious crimes of violence such as kidnapping, sex offenses, robbery, child pornography, burglary,” Moore said.
Those picked up in Florida included a 35-year-old Haitian in Miami who had been convicted in 2009 for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. He was also convicted in 2007 for possession of marijuana.
In Bradenton, ICE arrested a 24-year-old Colombian convicted in 2012 of child abuse, and in Orlando, officers arrested a 37-year-old Haitian convicted in 1997 of two counts of armed robbery and falsely impersonating an officer during the commission of a felony.
“This nationwide operation led to the apprehension of more than 2,000 convicted criminal aliens who pose the greatest risk to our public safety,” Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said at a news conference in Washington. “Today, communities around the country are safer because of the great work of the men and women of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
The operation began March 1 and ended March 5. Hundreds of officers participated in the operation, which focused on the arrests of public safety threats. Those arrested are from 94 countries and have a wide array of criminal convictions. In South Florida, those arrested included Mexicans, Haitians, Brazilians, Hondurans, Colombians, Guatemalans and Salvadorans.
Of the total 2,059 criminals arrested, 58 are known gang members, and 89 are convicted sex offenders, officials said.
The vast majority of misdemeanor convictions were for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). ICE considers DUI offenders, particularly repeat offenders, to be a significant public safety threat.
Of those arrested during the operation, 476 were illegal re-entrants who had been previously deported. Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, 163 of those arrested were presented to U.S. Attorneys for prosecution on a variety of charges, including illegal re-entry after deportation, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
“This national operation exemplifies ICE’s ongoing commitment to prioritizing convicted criminals and public safety threats for apprehension and removal,” ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña said in Washington. “By taking these individuals off our streets and removing them from the country, we are making our communities safer for everyone.”
Follow Alfonso Chardy on Twitter @AlfonsoChardy