Joint Operation Matador Nets 475 Total Arrests (Learn More, Videos)

The most prominent gangs with arrests during this operation were MS-13 with 274 arrests and the 18th street gang with 15 arrests. (Image courtesy of ICE)
The most prominent gangs with arrests during this operation were MS-13 with 274 arrests and the 18th street gang with 15 arrests. (Image courtesy of ICE)

Twenty-four alleged gang members were arrested Thursday under Operation Matador, the intelligence driven, unified effort to combat the proliferation of MS-13 and other transnational criminal gang activity in Long Island, the New York City metropolitan area and Hudson Valley.

This brings the total arrested under this initiative to 475.

Operation Matador, operating under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Transnational Organized Crime Initiative (DHS TOCI), was launched by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York along with ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

This joint initiative is comprised of the following law enforcement investigative agencies:

  • ICE HSI special agents
  • ERO deportation officers
  • The ICE Office of Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA)
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and
  • State and local law enforcement partners to include:
    • The Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD)
    • The Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), and
    • The Hempstead Police Department.
    • The DHS TOCI is responsible for identifying, interdicting and investigating a wide variety of transnational border crime with a concentration on MS-13 gang activity.
ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan
ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan

“Operation Matador sends a clear message to violent street gangs that there are consequences for their actions,” explained ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan.

“Since this operation began last year, we have seen a decrease in the amount of violent crime directly related to MS-13 and other transnational gangs.”

“That is a direct result of the strong partnerships between ICE Homeland Security Investigations, local law enforcement, and our community partners in support of a common goal: targeting and dismantling transnational criminal organizations.

“We will not rest until our communities are safe and these dangerous individuals are brought to justice.”

Dean Dimotsis, Assistant Port Director Tactical Operations, U.S. CBP, JFK International Airport Office of Field Operations, Michael Madsen, AST Publisher, and Leon Hayward, Acting Director, U.S. CBP New York Field Office
Dean Dimotsis, Assistant Port Director, CBP, JFK OFO (at left), and Leon Hayward, Acting Director, CBP New York Field Office (at right), accepting the agency’s 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Excellence in Homeland Security Award presented at the 2017 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Luncheon at ISC East.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection is extremely proud to have assisted in this operation,” said Leon Hayward, Acting Director New York Field Office.

“It is through our interagency partnerships and collaborative approaches like the one leading to today’s arrests, that law enforcement successfully combats modern criminal organizations.”

“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ New York District and New York Asylum Offices are  proud of the role we played in investigations leading to the arrests of violent gang members who have plagued Nassau and Suffolk Counties,” said Thomas M. Cioppa, USCIS New York District Director.

“We will continue to support Immigration and Customs Enforcement and our other state and local partners in any issues concerning public safety or national security.”

“I would like to congratulate all of the associated agencies and their investigators on their dedication and relentless pursuit to ensure that all of our residents and communities are safe from the violence that these gangs promote,” said Patrick Ryder, Commissioner of Police for NCPD.

“The arrests should send a strong message to all gangs that we will not tolerate their unlawfulness and intimidation. Our agencies will continue to collaborate to decrease the violence that is associated with these gangs”.

(Learn More. A grand jury indicted more than 40 alleged members (right) of the notorious MS-13 gang on multiple acts of violence, including eight counts of attempted murder. Prosecutors said the 41 defendants are behind at least 32 separate acts of violence in Nassau County. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said of the 41 individuals, 39 are members of MS-13, while the other two are affiliated with other gangs. Courtesy of Daily Mail and YouTube. Posted on Mar 16, 2018)

Operation Matador Results Since May 2017

A total of 475 alleged gang members and affiliates have been arrested as part of this ongoing enforcement effort, most of which were confirmed as gang members and affiliates.

The most prominent gangs with arrests during this operation were MS-13 with 274 arrests and the 18th street gang with 15 arrests.

(Image courtesy of ICE)
(Image courtesy of ICE)

This operation yielded 227 total criminal arrests and 248 administrative arrests.

Of the gang members arrested during this ongoing enforcement action, 80 had additional criminal histories, including prior convictions for assault and weapons charges and 5 are facing serious criminal charges.

Others taken into custody during the operation included:

  • An MS-13 member from El Salvador who admitted to killing rival gang members at the age of 12 in his home country and assimilated to the gang on Long Island, involved in criminal activity was arrested and deported.
  • An El Salvador national wanted, pursuant to an Interpol Red Notice for killing law enforcement in El Salvador.
  • An MS-13 member arrested in Brentwood admitted to killing three gang members in El Salvador at the age of 13.
  • An 18th Street Gang Member as part of this enforcement operation yielded a handgun that was likely going to be used against a rival gang.

The arrestees, 462 male and 13 female, included nationals from 10 countries – El Salvador (199); Honduras (56); Mexico (31); Guatemala (27); Ecuador (05), Dominican Republic (21) and St. Lucia (1).

Nassau County accounted for 210 arrests, the largest number of arrests during this operation to date, but DHS TOCI personnel conducted enforcement actions in multiple communities throughout Long Island, New York City and the Hudson Valley area.

(Learn More. HSI, in conjunction with CBP, USCIS, and ERO, conducting Operation Raging Bull. The operation, under the auspices Operation Community Shield, was designed to disrupt Mara Salvatrucha’s (MS-13) criminal enterprise by targeting members and associates who pose the greatest public safety threat and continue to provide financial support that funds their violent criminal activity. Courtesy of DHS, ICE, America the Beautiful and YouTube. Posted on Nov 16, 2017)

Area Arrest Totals

Nassau County 210
Suffolk County 177
Queens 36
Brooklyn 12
Bronx 18
Spring Valley 19
Other States 3


Ninety-nine individuals arrested during this operation crossed the border as unaccompanied minors, all of which were confirmed as MS-13 gang members.

(Image courtesy of ICE)
(Image courtesy of ICE)

64 individuals arrested during this operation obtained Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ) after entering the country, all of which were confirmed as MS-13 gang members.

Of the 99 UACs, 64 had SIJ status.

Of those arrested during this ongoing operation, 65 have been ordered released from ICE detention by an immigration judge.  4 have been re-arrested for local criminal charges.

It is important to note that not all evidence is presented before an immigration judge for a detention hearing. Some evidence is withheld in order to safeguard the integrity of law enforcement’s investigative techniques and protect concurrent or future investigations.

Some of the individuals arrested during the enforcement action will be presented for federal prosecution for re-entry after deportation, a federal felony.

Those not being criminally prosecuted will be processed for removal from the country.

(Image courtesy of YouTube)
(Image courtesy of YouTube)

Individuals 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 on federal charges.

The remaining arrestees are entered into immigration proceedings and will go before an immigration judge.

To date, a total of 70 have received a final order of removal issued by an immigration judge and have been removed from the United States to their home countries.

Partnerships within the law enforcement community are key to this ongoing effort in combatting transnational gangs.

Special thanks to following agencies:

  • The Hempstead Police Department
  • The New York National Guard (NYNG) Counter Drug Taskforce
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Long Island District Office
  • The U.S. Border Patrol Westchester County District Attorney’s Office
  • The Rockland County Sheriff’s Department
  • The Rockland County Intelligence Center
  • The Piermont Police Department
  • The Ulster County Sheriff’s Department, and
  • The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department

Operation Matador in New York is conducted under the auspices of the national gang enforcement effort, Operation Community Shield.

Operation Community Shield and MS-13

Operation Community Shield (Image courtesy of ICE)
(Image courtesy of ICE)

As part of Operation Community Shield,  HSI has effected nearly 5,000 criminal arrests and more than 3,200 civil immigration arrests of MS-13 leaders, members and associates.

The criminal arrests included:

  • Racketeering Influence Corrupt Organizations (RICO)
  • Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering (VICAR), and
  • Gang Conspiracy Violations

These cases were investigated by HSI New York, HSI Long Island, HSI Baltimore, HSI DC, HSI Charlotte, HSI Newark, HSI Boston, HSI San Francisco, HSI San Jose, HSI Los Angeles, HSI Detroit, HSI Nashville, HSI Houston, and our state and local law enforcement partners.

In October 2012, HSI worked with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to designate MS-13 as the first transnational criminal street gang as a transnational criminal organization (TCO).

(Learn More. MS-13 is the first street gang that has been designated as a transnational criminal organization. With approximately 10,000 members in 46 states, their numbers are growing. Thousands more threaten our neighbors south of the border in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Courtesy of US Military Videos By OpsLens and YouTube. Posted on Oct 13, 2012)

As a result of the designation, any property or property interests in the United States, or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which MS-13 has an interest, are blocked.

HSI’s National Gang Unit

HSI’s National Gang Unit oversees HSI’s expansive transnational gang portfolio and enables special agents to bring the fight to these criminal enterprises through the development of uniform enforcement and intelligence-sharing strategies.

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