Violent crime is being targeted by law enforcement agencies across the country. Earlier this month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents conducted a four-day action against street gangs in Alabaster, Decatur, Hoover, Pelham, and Shelby counties. As part of the operation, 23 individuals were arrested and now face possible deportation. Of those arrested, 20 were males, two were female and one was a juvenile. As an Alabama criminal defense attorneypracticing in Birmingham, I know that the claims that these people have ties to violent street gangs must be proven in court. Theft, assault, drug trafficking and murder may be just some of the charges levied against these alleged gang members.
According to news reports, federal agents targeted alleged gangs members in Jefferson, Shelby and Morgan counties. Police reportedly focused their efforts on several "transnational street gangs," as they are called. One of those gangs, “MS-13,” is reportedly one of the largest Hispanic street gangs in the United States. Another group, “Sureno-13,” is one of the most significant gangs operating in the Southeast, according to the National Gang Intelligence Center.
Most of the individuals arrested during the operation were taken to the DeKalb County Jail. Of those, three were released pending immigration hearings. As of Friday, only two faced criminal charges, according to an ICE official. One person in particular, Misael Godoy-Torres, was arrested at Cedar Brook Apartments in Hoover and was been charged with being an illegal alien in possession of a gun, according to court records. An affidavit stated ICE agents received a tip that Godoy-Torres, a Mexican citizen, was a member of street gang Brown Pride 13.
According to reports, when his girlfriend let the agents into the apartment, Godoy-Torres threw a rifle from a third-story bathroom window and was attempting to jump from the window when he was arrested. Agents found a cell phone with pictures of Godoy-Torres with the gun and "what appears to be a gang bandanna," the affidavit stated.
A second man, Margarito Carbajal-Nava, was being held in Decatur City Jail on state charges including violations on three charges of criminal trespassing. According to Officer Sharon Latham said Carbajal-Nava, a 38-year-old Decatur resident, was being held for ICE and was arrested Aug. 30.
A statement issued by ICE Friday stated that agents conducted the operation working with local law enforcement including police officers in Alabaster, Decatur, Hoover and Pelham, and Shelby County sheriff's departments.
Alabaster Police Deputy Chief Curtis Rigney said ICE agents asked his officers for backup during the operation. He commented that his department had not noticed an increased gang presence in Alabaster, but added, "you never know where these gangs are."
Gang raid nets 23 arrests in Alabama, AL.com, September 12, 2009