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US Anti-gang Sweep Nets 976 Arrests

FILE - An Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent watches cars as they wait to enter the United States from Tijuana, Mexico, through the San Ysidro port of entry in San Diego, Dec. 3, 2014.

Nearly 1,000 gang members and associates from 239 different gangs were arrested across the United States in an operation headed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, the agency said Wednesday.

The sweep, named Project Wildfire, was aimed at criminal gangs that work across international borders.

The operation, carried out from February 23 to March 31, netted 976 gang members and associates in 282 cities. Most of them were U.S. citizens, but 199 were foreign nationals from 18 countries in South and Central America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean, the ICE said.

Of those arrested, 913 were charged with criminal offenses, 63 were arrested for immigration violations and 650 had violent criminal histories.

Agents also seized 82 firearms, several kilos of illegal drugs, nearly $400,000 in U.S. currency, counterfeit merchandise and five vehicles.

Since U.S. authorities launched Operation Community Shield in 2005, agents have arrested more than 36,000 gang members and associates linked to 2,600 street gangs, the ICE said.