Ninety-six Gang Members Nabbed Throughout New Jersey
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Last week, 96 street gang members and associates were arrested as a result of a state-wide public safety initiative in New Jersey, according to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
Each of those arrested were targeted for their membership, participation or association with violent street gangs operating in the Garden State.
The success of the operation dubbed "Community Shield" was the result of an extensive collaborative effort between federal Gang Investigation Unit special agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the state including the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, West New York Police Department, Newark Police Department, New Brunswick Police Department, Passaic Police Department, Union City Police Department, Hudson County Prosecutor's Office, and the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.
Of those arrested, 76 were gang members and 20 were gang associates. A total of 76 individuals arrested are members of the MS-13, La Mugre, LA-13, DDP, Trinitarios, Mexican Mafia, Los Pitufos, Vatos Locos, Bloods and Crips street gangs.
The majority of those arrested were from El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. Three cases will be presented for federal prosecution, seven individuals were arrested on state charges and 30 were unlawfully present in the United States. Three weapons were seized, including a 9mm firearm from a convicted felon, along with gang paraphernalia.
Among those arrested were: David Vargas, 27, a member of the Latin Kings street gang, arrested on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine; and Delwall Herrera-Guevara, 26, a member of the notorious MS-13, charged under New Jersey law for possession of cocaine.
Also nabbed were Jeffrey Diaz, 20, a member of the Dominican's Don't Play (DDP) street gang, charged under New Jersey law for aggravated assault and attempted murder; andAlberto Vargas, 28, a member of the Mexican Mafia gang, arrested on federal charges of being an aggravated felon who re-entered the United States after being deported.
"The Union City Police Department is very happy with our long-term, ongoing working relationship with [federal and state law enforcement agencies] which has resulted in the apprehension and removal of many criminal street gang members who are in our community illegally," said Captain Brian Barrett, Investigative Division Commander.
"Law enforcement achieves the best results when law enforcement agencies work together for the safety of the public," said Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.