First Lady Laura Bush is leading a new initiative "to help America's youth overcome the danger of gang influence and involvement." With all due respect to the first lady, this is a job best left to law enforcement professionals willing to get tough, get dirty and crack heads. From the suburbs to our national forests, savage criminal alien gangs are infiltrating America and luring young recruits. Compassionate conservatism ain't gonna stop them.
As many law enforcement sources have been informing me, native gangs such as the Bloods and Crips have nothing on the recent wave of criminal alien enterprises settling across the heartland. Recent enforcement action in New York demonstrates the scope of the problem. Last month in New York, 41 criminal aliens with felony convictions were arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on a single day as part of a joint public safety initiative between ICE and the U.S. Probation Office of the Eastern District of New York.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the aliens arrested in New York -- half of whom were here illegally -- include citizens of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ghana, Haiti, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Mexico, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Trinidad, Turkey, Ukraine and Venezuela. The operation targeted criminal aliens with prior felony convictions for "murder, firearms trafficking, drug trafficking, money laundering, racketeering, fraud, false statements, receipt of stolen property, producing false identity documents, copyright infringement and other federal felonies."
Martin D. Ficke, ICE special agent-in-charge in New York, vowed: "These are the criminals who turn the American dream into a nightmare, and they will not be given the chance to cause more harm."
A nationwide tracking system for criminal alien felons would help this effort, but to date no such program exists.
In Chicago, ICE agents and local cops specializing in gang-related activity undertook a similar operation across Chicago's western suburbs targeting foreign-born members of violent Hispanic street gangs. A two-day campaign netted 19 criminal alien gangsters -- mostly Mexican nationals with extensive criminal histories, including convictions for drugs, aggravated assault, firearms and theft. Over the past five years, ICE agents on Chicago's Violent Gang Task Force have arrested more than 375 known gang members.
The most notorious criminal alien gang enterprise on the American landscape is Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, the El Salvadoran-based syndicate engaged in murder, drug trafficking, and human smuggling across Central America and the United States. MS-13 members, many of them juveniles, have been implicated in gang rapes, machete mutilations and cop killings on both coasts. According to Siskiyou County Sheriff Rick Riggins, MS-13 paraphernalia and weaponry have been discovered deep on federal forest land in northern California, where Latino gangs have established massive marijuana-growing operations.
Most recently, Ebner Anibal Rivera Paz, the reputed leader of MS-13's Honduran branch, was nabbed in Texas last month after escaping from his native country, where he's wanted in connection with the Christmas holiday massacre of 28 people, including six children.
Rivera Paz's appalling immigration history is a textbook example of how criminal alien gangs exploit our open borders. Prior to being caught on Feb. 10 -- by Texas highway patrol officers 100 miles inside the U.S. -- Rivera Paz had waltzed in and out of the country illegally numerous times despite a long rap sheet and repeated deportations.
In 1993, at the age of 17, Rivera Paz was arrested by San Francisco police for selling drugs. Weeks later, he was arrested for auto theft and then for assault with a deadly weapon. According to the Border Patrol, he has been arrested in California at least eight times since 2001 for crimes ranging from passing bad checks and using false identification to burglary, robbery and criminal conspiracy.
According to a criminal complaint filed last month in federal court, Rivera Paz was deported or excluded from the U.S. four separate times before his final capture. If not for alert Texas highway patrolmen willing to help enforce immigration law, Rivera Paz would be home free again.
The revolving door for illegal alien gangsters keeps spinning. The solution lies with increased federal-local cooperation, aggressive deportation and uncompromising immigration enforcement -- not with warm-and-fuzzy photo ops at the first lady's breakfast table.