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The State

21 Reputedly Linked to Gangs Are Held; May Be Deported

August 20, 2003|Anna Gorman | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Twenty-one Mexican nationals with alleged gang ties were arrested Tuesday morning in northern San Diego for immigration violations, homeland security officials announced.

The arrests took place early Tuesday at homes and work sites in Oceanside and San Diego. Most of the alleged gang members and associates had criminal records, including felony convictions for drug charges and child endangerment, authorities said. Five are suspected gang members and 16 are alleged to be gang associates, said Lauren Mack, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"The goal is to get them off the streets" and work with other authorities to make that happen, Mack said.

At least four could face felony charges for reentering the U.S. after having been deported. All of them are expected to be deported to Mexico because they are either illegal immigrants or have criminal convictions, Mack said.

Bureau agents have arrested more than 450 alleged gang members and associates in the last 11 months.

Tuesday's arrests were made by the North County Regional Gang Task Force, which includes the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, the Oceanside Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service and the state Department of Justice.

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