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February 28, 2011

US Arrests Nearly 700 in Drug Trafficking Investigation

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities say 678 gang members and associates have been arrested since December in what is being described as the agency's biggest gang roundup since 2005.

ICE Director John Morton Tuesday said the operation, known as Project Southern Tempest, targeted gangs with ties to drug trafficking organizations.  A statement also said authorities arrested members and associates from 133 different gangs in 168 U.S. cities.

More than half of those taken into custody are foreign nationals.  The suspects come from 24 countries in South and Central America, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.

In addition, ICE says its agents worked with 173 federal, state and local law enforcement partners to apprehend individuals from 13 gangs affiliated with drug trafficking organizations in Mexico.

Nearly 450 of the suspects have been charged with criminal offenses.

ICE also says that between 2005 and January of this year, authorities have arrested more than 20,000 gang members and associates.