Immigration and Customs Enforcement's latest roundup: 85 "criminal aliens" busted by ICE

Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues to emphasize that it's focusing on arresting so-called criminal aliens -- and it's lassoed plenty in these parts of late. In September, ICE busted 78 people -- and of the 6,617 folks grabbed in the Denver area during fiscal 2010, 4,447 were said to be criminals.

Now, 85 more alleged criminals from Colorado and Wyoming are in custody.

As is spelled out in the following ICE release, the vast majority of the arrestees -- 66 -- hail from Mexico, with a smattering of other countries represented. (Poland chalks up one.) Violations involve a potpourri of offenses, from drunk driving to assault, with one man said to have been wanted on charges related to cocaine possession and "inflicting corporal injury to a spouse/cohabitant." More details below

Immigration and Customs Enforcement release:

ICE arrests 85 convicted criminal aliens, fugitives in enforcement surge throughout Colorado, and part of Wyoming

DENVER -- During a four-day targeted enforcement operation throughout Colorado ending Friday, 85 convicted criminal aliens and immigration fugitives have been arrested by agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

During the operation, which ended Nov. 19, ICE officers located and arrested 78 aliens with prior criminal convictions. Many of the criminal aliens taken into custody have prior convictions for serious or violent crimes, such as: contributing to the delinquency of a minor, sexual assault, possessing and selling dangerous drugs, drunken driving, sexual contact and battery, and assault. In addition, 18 of the individuals ICE officers took into custody were immigration fugitives, aliens with outstanding orders of deportation who had failed to leave the country.

Eighty-two aliens were arrested in the following Colorado cities: Denver, Colorado Springs, .Aurora, Lakewood, Commerce City, Longmont, Littleton, Westminster, Federal Heights, Greeley, Weldona, Estes Park, Johnston, Englewood, Thornton, Delta, Montrose, Carbondale, Basalt, Centennial, Highlands Ranch, Boulder, Windsor, Fort Collins, Evans, Glenwood Springs, Avon, Edwards, Vail, Grand Junction, Milliken, Lafayette, Fort Morgan, Brush, and Loveland. Three arrests were made in Wyoming.

The following law enforcement agencies assisted ICE ERO officers with these arrests: Montrose Police Department, Carbondale Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff's Office, Garfield County Sheriff's Office, Avon Police Department, and ICE Homeland Security Investigations.

"This four-day ICE operation targeted criminal and fugitive aliens throughout Colorado," said ICE Director John Morton. "These surge operations, and our daily targeting of aliens with criminal convictions, are some of the many tools that ICE uses to effectively reduce crime at the street level in communities throughout the United States."

Twenty one of those arrested had been previously deported. A conviction for felony re-entry carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Below are two case examples of those arrested during this operation:

• A 40-year-old man from Mexico who is a U.S. permanent resident has been convicted of controlled substance violations, and other crimes. He was also convicted on Nov. 5, 2010 in the Denver District Court for sexual contact-no consent, for which he was sentenced to five years sex offender supervision. He was also convicted in 1993 in the Los Angeles Municipal Court for possessing cocaine, and was sentenced to 16 months in prison. He was taken into ICE custody in Denver during this operation and was served a Notice to Appear before a federal immigration judge.

• A 42-year-old man from Mexico, who is a U.S. permanent resident, has convictions for illegally possessing/selling a switch blade knife, inflicting corporal injury to a spouse/cohabitant, drunken driving, and possession for sale of cocaine. He was arrested by ICE in Thornton, Colo. He was served a new Notice to Appear and placed in removal proceedings.

The foreign nationals detained during the operation who are not being criminally prosecuted will be processed administratively for removal from the United States. Those who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who returned to the United States illegally after being deported, are subject to immediate removal from the country. The remaining aliens are in ICE custody awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge, or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future.

Of those arrested, 73 were men and 12 were women. They represent the following nine countries: El Salvador (7), Poland (1), Dominican Republic (1), Guatemala (2), Mexico (66), Uganda (1), S. Korea (1), Honduras (5), and Mongolia (1). They range in age from 34 to 63.

This week's special enforcement action was spearheaded by ICE's Fugitive Operations Program, which is responsible for locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives -- aliens who have ignored final orders of deportation handed down by the nation's immigration courts. ICE's Fugitive Operations Teams (FOTs) give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.

The officers who conducted this week's operation received substantial assistance from ICE's Fugitive Operations Support Center (FOSC) located in Williston, Vt. The FOSC conducted exhaustive database checks on the targeted cases to help ensure the viability of the leads and accuracy of the criminal histories. The FOSC was established in 2006 to improve the integrity of the data available on at large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives nationwide. Since its inception, the FOSC has forwarded more than 550,000 case leads to ICE enforcement personnel in the field.

ICE's Fugitive Operations Program is just one facet of the Department of Homeland Security's broader strategy to heighten the federal government's effectiveness at identifying and removing dangerous criminal aliens from the United States. Other initiatives that figure prominently in this effort are the Criminal Alien Program, Secure Communities and the agency's partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies under 287(g).

Largely as a result of these initiatives, ICE last year removed more than 392,800 aliens from the United States, which is a record number; of that number more than 195,700 were aliens with criminal convictions.

More from our Immigration archive: "ACLU files claim against ICE for harassing U.S. citizens en route to Amway convention."