In a nationwide immigration sweep, 39 individuals connected to known and suspected human rights violations were arrested.
Between August 27 and 28, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center initiated immigration sweeps in 12 cities, catching 30 male and 9 female fugitives. An ICE press release detailed the raids, designated as “Operation No Safe Haven V.”
The ICE release said all 39 of those arrested had valid removal orders and are subject to be returned to their countries of origin, including El Salvador, Guatemala, China, Liberia, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, Colombia, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.
Among the arrests, ICE caught four individuals from West African countries who were wanted for “a range of atrocities, including civilian massacres, mutilations, recruitment of child soldiers, extrajudicial killings, and other human rights violations.”
The International Criminal Court has included the recruitment of child soldiers and killing and maiming civilians in its definition of war crimes.
The arrests also included 14 Central American connected to human rights violations such as capturing civilians “who were subsequently mistreated, and in some cases, beaten, electrocuted, and killed.”
The arrests also found four Chinese individuals, who are alleged to have helped the Chinese government commit forced abortions and sterilizations. It is not immediately clear from the ICE press release if those individuals will be returned to Chinese government custody.
Another European individual alleged to have worked for a security agency “implicated in human rights abuses against political opponents,” was also arrested.
The arrest also found 16 criminal aliens in the U.S. convicted of crimes including domestic violence, DUI and drug charges, vehicle thefts and reckless endangerment as well as robbery, fraud, and theft.
“ICE will not allow war criminals and human rights abusers to use the U.S. as a safe haven,” Acting Director Matthew Albence said in a statement accompanying the ICE press release.
Albence said ICE would continue its mission to search for wanted criminals hiding in the U.S.
The 39 arrests resulting from the raids conducted in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Newark, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco resulted in more than double the arrests of the first ‘No Safe Haven’ operation in September 2014.
According to ICE, more than 415 individuals have been arrested in connection to human rights abuses, since 2003. During that same period of time, ICE also requested and completed the deportation orders of more than 990 human rights abuse suspects in that same time and assisted other agencies in an additional 152 deportations of other human rights abuse suspects.
More than 1,600 leads have been sent to ICE, regarding suspected human rights abuses, and ICE has 170 active investigations on human rights suspects.
The press release did note human rights abusers may use fraudulent documents and aliases to enter the U.S. but did not say if any of the arrested individuals used those means, nor did they specify what direction they entered the country.