WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Authorities arrested more than 600 gang members and associates from 145 different gangs across the country in a month-long operation done by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations. (HSI).
Authorities said the operation, Project Southbound targeted gangs affiliated with the Sureños, which is also known as Sur 13. Sur 13 is a criminal street gang that started in Southern California and has hundreds of cliques throughout the country.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Gang Intelligence Center, the Sureños is the fastest growing gang in the country. Gang members are often involved in crimes such as murder, extortion, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking and prostitution.
The operation was done between March 12 and April 13 and authorities said more than 73 percent of the people who were arrested were members or associates of the Sureños.
Authorities made other arrests in addition to the 638 gang members and associates. A total of 119 people were arrested on federal and or state criminal violations and administrative immigration violation.
"Project Southbound is the largest-ever ICE operation targeting the Sureños gang," said ICE Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas S. Winkowski. "This gang now has more than 30,000 members in the United States and its numbers are growing. Targeting transnational gangs like the Sureños is a top priority for ICE and we will continue to disrupt and dismantle the violence and criminal activities that they inflict upon our neighborhoods."
525 gang members were charged with criminal offenses, 113 were arrested for immigration violation, 414 had violent criminal histories, seven people were wanted for murder and five were wanted for rape or sexual assault. Authorities said 265 members were foreign nationals.
The following Sureños gang members were arrested during the operation:
• Cesar Lisandro Anaya, 27, an El Salvadoran national and an 18th Street gang member, arrested in Dallas, Texas, on immigration-related charges. He is wanted in El Salvador on felony warrants for aggravated homicide, extortion, and illicit groupings (gang activity).
• Nine MS-13 gang members arrested on RICO charges filed in the District of Maryland stemming from their involvement in multiple criminal acts including murder, assault, extortion and prostitution, in furtherance of MS-13.
• Richard Allen Cotinola, a U.S. citizen and Brewtown Locos gang member, arrested in New Mexico on an outstanding state warrant for violation of parole related to a previous conviction for aggravated burglary with a weapon. He has previous convictions for aggravated burglary with a weapon and armed robbery.
• A father and son arrested in San Francisco on state narcotics and firearms charges following the execution of state search warrants on the father's property. The father, a Sureños gang associate and previously deported aggravated felon, accused of supplying large quantities of high-quality, commercially-grown marijuana to Sureños and Latin Kings gang members. During these arrests, HSI agents seized 4,669 marijuana plants, 25 pounds of processed marijuana, an AR-15 rifle, a stolen Glock handgun, four diesel generators, four vehicles and $85,635 in cash.
Authorities said the people arrested were from 21 different countries in South and Central America, Asia, African and the Caribbean. 79 were women and 678 were men.
Special agents seized 54 firearms, 13.36 pounds of methamphetamine, 82.76 pounds of marijuana, 3.075 pounds of cocaine, 1.44 pounds of heroin, more than $166,000 in U.S. cash and 10 vehicles.