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Sunday, March 24 , 2019, 7:01 pm | Fair 60º

 
 
 
 

Immigration Enforcement Lands 10 Santa Barbara County Residents In Custody

Nearly 200 people arrested in 6-county effort seeking undocument immigrants with criminal histories

A convicted rapist and a previously deported cocaine trafficker are among those arrested in the greater Los Angeles area by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Fugitive Operations officers during a five-day expanded enforcement operation targeting at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives. Click to view larger
A convicted rapist and a previously deported cocaine trafficker are among those arrested in the greater Los Angeles area by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Fugitive Operations officers during a five-day expanded enforcement operation targeting at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants, and immigration fugitives. (Contributed photo)

Nine people in Santa Maria and one in Santa Barbara have been arrested as U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agents undertook an operation targeting criminals, fugitives and those who illegally re-entered the country.

ICE representatives said the "expanded enforcement operation" occurred over five days and spanned six counties, including Santa Barbara.

In all, 188 people were taken into custody between Saturday and Wednesday, with 169, or 90 percent, having prior criminal convictions, ICE officials said. 

“Operations like this are emblematic of the vital work ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations officers do every day seeking to locate, arrest, and ultimately deport at-large convicted criminals and other immigration fugitives who pose a threat to public safety,” said David Marin, field office director for ERO in Los Angeles.

“By taking these individuals off the streets and removing them from the country, we’re making our communities safer for everyone.”

The 177 men and 11 women arrested came from 11 countries, with Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala having the highest number. Others came from Armenia, Russia and Cambodia.

Los Angeles County represented the largest number detained at 93, while Riverside County had 26, Orange, 23, San Bernardino, 21 and Ventura, 14.

ICE representative said the Santa Barbara County tally was 11, although the city breakdown listed nine in Santa Maria and 1 in Santa Barbara.

The discrepancy stemmed from the fact the 11th person was thought to be in the county but ultimately was located in Oxnard, ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Thursday night.

Drug offenses marked the largest category of criminal convictions, followed by domestic violence, DUIs, sex crimes and battery.

But offenses of those taken into custody in the Southern California operation ranged from rape and manslaughter to burglary and obstructing justice.

The criminal histories of those from Santa Barbara County were not available Thursday night.

At least eight of the nearly 200 people arrested during the just-concluded enforcement action could face federal prosecution for re-entry after deportation, ICE officials said. That crime is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Anyone not being criminally prosecuted will be processed for deportation, ICE officials said.

While conducting what ICE called “targeted enforcement operations,” agents often encounter other people who may be in the country illegally. Those individuals will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and arrested by ICE, when appropriate. 

The latest operation comes three months after another enforcement effort led to five people in Santa Barbara County being taken into custody. 

The Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, or CAUSE, recently sponsored an event in Santa Maria to assist immigrant families in creating preparedness plans in case of detention or deportation.

“This is our reality under the Trump's administration's terror,” CAUSE representatives noted in a Facebook post.

CAUSE representatives said the agency has ramped up efforts to educate undocumented immigrants about their rights regardless of their status.

In the first 100 days since President Donald Trump took office, ICE arrested more than 41,000 individuals who were either known or suspected of being in the country illegally. 

The agency said the number reflects an increase of 37.6 percent over the same period in 2016.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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