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    NJ Gang Raids Yield Familiar Suspects

    BLOOMINGDALE/BUTLER - Gang raid yields some usual suspects

    (by Donna Rolando and Rebecca Scanlon - Staff Writers - November 26, 200


    BUTLER/BLOOMINGDALE - Some of the 32 suspected gang members arrested in Butler and Bloomingdale this past week on alleged immigration violations are the same men nabbed three years ago in a similar local raid, federal agents said.

    Thirty-two reputed gang members and associates, some of whom authorities said have violent criminal records, were arrested in the early morning hours of Nov. 18 in Butler and Bloomingdale as the result of a multi-agency operation.

    All of the arrests were the results of alleged administrative immigration violations, said Harold Ort, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of Homeland Security. According to authorities, some of those arrested have been previously charged with crimes ranging from aggravated assault to robbery and domestic violence.

    Last Tuesday's arrests were part of Operation Community Shield, Acting Special Agent in Charge Matthew Etre said. The operation started in 2005 to address the expanding presence of the gang MS13, and Etre said that the initial success of this campaign prompted its expansion to cover all street gangs, of which New Jersey has many varieties.

    According to ICE, since its inception, Operation Community Shield has yielded more than 11,000 arrests nationwide, and this year, more than 200 in New Jersey.

    In its inaugural year, Operation Community Shield resulted in 10 local arrests. On Nov. 17, 2005, 10 suspected gang members were arrested following an investigation that stemmed from evidence tied to the violent Mexican gang Sureno 13 that was found at a house at 120 Main St. in Bloomingdale. Many of those arrested were deported to Mexico for an illegal status; the investigation revealed no known felonies in their records.

    Chris Musto, group supervisor of ICE's Gang Investigation Unit, said that some of the same individuals who were arrested in 2005 were arrested again this past week. Musto said that after they were arrested in 2005, they were deported, and then reentered the country illegally.

    Etre said that the 32 individuals arrested last week were processed in Newark and turned over to the Detention and Removal Office where they await the chance to make their case to be allowed to stay in the country.

    "They will have their day in court," Etre said.

    According to ICE, the arrests last week were not made in the same locations as those in 2005. ICE would not verify the locations of the arrests last week, but police activity was reported on Main Street in Bloomingdale and Butler, and on Belleview Avenue, Bartholdi Avenue and Arch Street in Butler.

    Alleged gang ties
    Etre said that ICE has tied several of the individuals arrested last week to the gangs Sureno 13 and the Latin Kings.

    Detective Sgt. Juan Colon, crime analyst supervisor for the New Jersey State Police, said that Sureno 13 has its roots with the Mexican Mafia. The number attached to the name represents the 13th letter of the alphabet – M — for the Mexican mob.

    In California where the Mexican Mafia is big, the state is broken into a northern and southern territory. If you lived in the southern territory, gang members would be the Surenos, meaning Southerners.

    While talk of the mob, especially in a relatively calm suburban area like Butler and Bloomingdale, is disconcerting, Colon said that here it’s less about the Mafia and more about joining a gang. Often it’s younger people who learn about the Surenos or the Latin Kings over the Internet and then copy the gang’s lifestyle and traits.

    “It’s the younger population that’s involved. What’s made it easier these days is the Internet,
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