WASHINGTON and PHOENIX -- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested more than 3,100 criminal aliens in a six-day nationwide operation that's the largest of its kind. More than 60 of those arrests took place here in Arizona.
As part of Operation Cross Check, arrests were made in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories.
"The results of this targeted enforcement operation underscore ICE's ongoing commitment and focus on the arrest and removal of convicted criminal aliens and those that game our nation's immigration system," said ICE Director John Morton in a news release Monday morning. "Because of the tireless efforts and teamwork of ICE officers and agents in tracking down criminal aliens and fugitives, there are 3,168 fewer criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators in our neighborhoods across the country."
Operation Cross Check involved nearly 2,000 ICE officers from dozens of field offices collaborating with federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies.
As part of the massive sweep, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers arrested more than 2,800 individuals who had prior criminal convictions for everything from child abuse to assault to murder to drug trafficking. More than 1,000 of them had multiple criminal convictions and 149 were convicted sex offenders.
Nearly 700 of those arrested were immigration fugitives who had defied previous orders to leave the county, and 559 had returned to the U.S. illegally after being removed from the country.
Here in Arizona, 40 officers from the Phoenix ERO field office were responsible for about 2 percent of the total arrests, taking 64 convicted aliens and immigration fugitives -- 58 in Phoenix and six in Tucson -- into custody. Nearly half of those arrested had drug convictions, while four had aggravated DUI convictions and three had child-abuse convictions.
“The top priority of ERO’s Phoenix field office is the removal of those aliens who pose a threat to public safety, and egregious immigration law violators who circumvent our nation’s immigration system,” said ERO Phoenix field office director Katrina S. Kane in a news release. “I am exceptionally proud of the dedication and professionalism of our ICE officers and special agents, who tracked down and arrested 64 criminal aliens and immigration fugitives in Phoenix and Tucson last week. Thanks to their tireless efforts, there are more than five dozen fewer criminal aliens in our Arizona communities.”
The first successful nationwide Cross Check Operation took place in December 2009. Seven regional and two national operations have happened since, the most recent being last September.