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70 arrests announced in ICE antigang operation
By Globe Staff

Fifty-two gang members and 28 other criminals have been arrested this week as part of a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation, ICE announced today.

The agency said that the arrests were part of Operation Community Shield, which targets violent street gangs. The people arrested belonged to 24 different gangs, including the Tiny Rascals, Bloods, Crips, 18th Street, MS-13, and the Deuce Boys.

"Criminal aliens should be on notice that ICE is working closely with local law enforcement to take off the streets those who threaten the very safety of our neighborhoods," Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Boston, said in a statement.

But Shuya Ohya, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said the ICE agents were using heavy-handed tactics and questioned whether they were arresting the right people.

"Protecting public safety should not be terrorizing communities," he said. "Families with no cause to fear are now in a panic."

Those arrested came from Barbados, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Portugal, Trinidad, and Vietnam.

The operation was conducted in partnership with police in Boston, Cambridge, Worcester, New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Lowell, Lawrence, and 15 other cities and towns.

Ohya said that a vigil was planned in Lowell this evening where community members were planning to speak out.

While the operation might be intended to target violent gangs, "there's a lot of other people in here that they're portraying as violent criminals when that might not be the case at all," he said.

Vong Ros, executive director of the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, a social service agency for Cambodian immigrants in Lowell, said the raid had caused "major fear throughout the community."
 
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