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Huge Gang Crackdown Leads To Over 600 Arrests
More than 600 suspected gang members have been arrested in a month-long crackdown on street gangs in the US.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents worked with local authorities in 179 cities to arrest 638 suspected criminals with gang ties.
The operation dubbed "Project Southbound" is the latest attempt by the Department of Homeland Security to curb gang violence across the US.
The arrests included suspected members and associates from 175 different gangs, including Southern California's Sure?gang, also known as Sur 13.
According to the Justice Department's most recent gang threat assessment, Sur 13 is expanding at a faster rate than any other national-level gang in the United States.
Authorities say Sur 13 members are involved in a myriad of criminal activity, including murder, extortion, narcotics and human trafficking.
ICE Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas Winkowski said: "Project Southbound is the largest-ever ICE operation targeting the Sure?gang.
"This gang now has more than 30,000 members in the United States and its numbers are growing.
"Targeting transnational gangs like the Sure?is a top priority for ICE and we will continue to disrupt and dismantle the violence and criminal activities that they inflict upon our neighbourhoods."
Of the 638 suspects arrested, the ICE said 414 had violent criminal histories, including seven people wanted on murder charges.
The crackdown also netted several members of the ultraviolent Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, gang known for using machetes to hack and stab victims.
During the operation, agents also seized 54 firearms, and a myriad of illegal drugs including methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin.
Officials also seized more than $166,000 (£98,000).