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1,157 arrested in immigration raids

September 30, 2008|Francisco Vara-Orta | Times Staff Writer

Federal immigration agents arrested more than 1,150 people in the largest collective sweep by specialized enforcement teams in California, authorities said today.

The sweep targeted those who ignored deportation orders or returned to the United States illegally after being deported, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice.

The raids, which ended Saturday, produced 436 arrests in the San Francisco area, 420 in the Los Angeles area and 301 in the San Diego area.

Of the 1,157 illegal immigrants arrested statewide, 595 had outstanding deportation orders and 346 had prior criminal convictions, Kice said. Those arrested come from 34 countries.

The squads responsible for the arrests, known as fugitive operations teams, were developed in 2003 to focus on apprehending foreign nationals who have ignored final orders of deportation or have returned to the U.S. illegally, Kice said.

The most prominent cases involve those wanted or convicted in violent or drug-related crimes, agency officials said.

"Individuals who defy immigration court orders to leave the country need to understand there are consequences for willfully disregarding the law," said Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers, who oversees the federal immigration agency.

Kice released details of two arrests in the L.A. area.

Jose Avila, 41, a Mexican national whose criminal history includes convictions for lewd acts involving a child and for battery, was arrested Sept. 15 in Santa Fe Springs.

After he is released by local authorities, Avila will be returned to federal custody for prosecution on felony charges of reentering the country after his deportation last year.

In North Hollywood, Ramon Cedano, 47, a previously deported Mexican national with a conviction for selling heroin, was arrested Sept. 11 at his home.

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francisco.varaorta@latimes.com

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