BOSTON — Federal immigration officials say a three-month operation in four New England states has led to the arrest of 47 people suspected of being gang members or having ties to gangs.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Harold Ort said on Friday that many of the suspects had histories of violent crimes including attempted murder, car jacking, assault and battery with dangerous weapons, assault to rape and possession of firearms.
The suspects were detained in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
“These guys are the worst of the worst,’’ Ort told the Boston Globe. “I cross the street when I see these guys.’’
The operation was aimed at removing foreigners deemed dangerous. Of the 47 people arrested, 19 are immigrants who could face deportation, Ort said. ICE assisted in arresting the remaining 28 US citizens at the behest of state and local law enforcement agencies. It is unclear how many of the 19 are illegal immigrants.
“It really harkens back to the main ICE mission statement, which is to keep the American public safe from threats, national and international,’’ Ort said.
Although the arrests took place over a three-month period, 28 were made from Tuesday to Thursday, though not all in the same location, said ICE special agent Bruce Foucart, who heads the agency’s Office of Investigations in Boston.
The operation targeted foreigners and those born abroad. They will appear before immigration judges, but their criminal status renders them removable from the country within 10 business days.