SALT LAKE CITY — An operation led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s National Gang Unit resulted in the arrests of 976 gang members or associates, including 18 people living in Utah.
The six-week operation, termed “Project Wildfire,” targeted transnational criminal gangs and others associated with transnational criminal activity.
According to a press release from ICE, some of the Utahns arrested during the operation were affiliated with the Sureños, Crips, Soldiers of Aryan Culture, Tiny Oriental Posse or Varrio Loco Town.
The Utah arrests occurred in Salt Lake City, Sandy, Murray, Layton, West Jordan, West Valley City, Midvale, Kearns and St. George.
“Criminal gangs inflict violence and fear upon our communities, and without the attention of law enforcement, these groups can spread like a cancer,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña in a statement sent to FOX 13. “That’s why ICE works with law enforcement partners around the country to stamp out gang activity wherever it takes place.”
Law enforcement officials from the Unified Police Department, the West Valley City Police Department, The Taylorsville City Police Department, the Cottonwood Heights Police Department and the St. George Police Department participated in the operation. The Utah Department of Corrections, the U.S. Marshals Service and ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations were also involved.
“Enforcement actions occurred around the country, with the greatest activity taking place in the San Juan, Dallas, El Paso, Los Angeles and Detroit HSI areas,” the press release said.
Most of the people arrested in Project Wildfire are U.S. citizens, but 199 foreign nationals were also arrested, including individuals from 18 countries in South and Central America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean.
“Of the 976 gang members or associates arrested: 913 were charged with criminal offenses and 63 were arrested administratively for immigration violations; 650 had violent criminal histories, including 19 individuals wanted on active warrants for murder and 15 for rape or sexual assault,” the press release said.
Special agents seized 82 guns, 5.2 kilograms of methamphetamine, 7.8 kilograms of marijuana, 5.6 kilograms of cocaine, 1.5 kilograms of heroin $379,399 in cash, counterfeit merchandise with an estimated value of $547,534 and five vehicles in the nationwide sweep.
Most of the Project Wildfire activity occurred around San Juan, Dallas, El Paso, Los Angeles and Detroit.