Media Center


KENOSHA - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today the successful arrest of eleven illegal alien gang members from Mexico in Kenosha, Wisconsin.


These arrests were made Wednesday, November 19, 2008 as part of the ongoing national U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) initiative called "Operation Community Shield," in which ICE partners with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to address the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs.


Under Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's leadership, the Wisconsin Department of Justice has become an active partner and participant in these cooperative enforcement operations concentrating on illegal alien gang members.


"The identification and arrest of illegal aliens who organize and are members of criminal street gangs must be a top priority of all law enforcement. The success of this operation speaks for itself," said Van Hollen. "Street gangs wreck havoc on communities. We are proud to partner with ICE and local law enforcement to make Wisconsin streets safer."


The multi-agency operation involving the Wisconsin Department of Justice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Kenosha County Sheriff's Office, the Kenosha Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) targeted members and associates of the Surenos street gang.


One of those arrested is 40-year-old Francisco Cortes-Ruiz, a self-admitted member of the Surenos-13 gang. While serving time in California's maximum security Pelican Bay State Prison for drug trafficking in 1991, Cortes-Ruiz was convicted of assaulting another prisoner with a weapon and sentenced to an additional three years in prison. He was deported to Mexico in 1996 as an aggravated felon upon his release from prison, and later illegally re-entered the United States. The U.S. Attorney's Office has accepted his case for re-entering the U.S. after being deported as an aggravated felon, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.


"Illegal immigration isn't just a problem at the borders," said Van Hollen. "It is a public safety problem. When illegal immigrants engage in criminal activity in Wisconsin it is no longer just a federal issue, it becomes a state problem."


Two of the other arrests, Jose Garcia-Ayala, 29, and Francisco Cordero-Rodriguez, 26, were turned over to the Kenosha County Sheriff's Office to face outstanding criminal charges. ICE placed detainers on them to ensure they will be returned to ICE for deportation after they complete their criminal proceedings.


The remaining eight illegal alien gang members arrested face administrative immigration charges, and are currently in ICE custody pending their deportation.