Nine people in Santa Maria and one in Santa Barbara have been arrested as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents undertook an operation targeting criminals, fugitives and those who illegally re-entered the country.
ICE representatives said the “expanded enforcement operation” occurred over five days and spanned six counties, including Santa Barbara. In all, 188 people were taken into custody between Saturday and Wednesday, with 169, or 90 percent, having prior criminal convictions, ICE officials said.
“Operations like this are emblematic of the vital work ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations officers do every day seeking to locate, arrest, and ultimately deport at-large convicted criminals and other immigration fugitives who pose a threat to public safety,” said David Marin, field office director for ERO in Los Angeles.
The 177 men and 11 women who were arrested came from 11 countries, with Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala having the highest number. Others came from Armenia, Russia and Cambodia.
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Los Angeles County represented the largest number detained at 93, while Riverside County had 26; Orange, 23; San Bernardino, 21; and Ventura, 14.
ICE representative said the Santa Barbara County tally was 11, though the city breakdown listed nine in Santa Maria and 1 in Santa Barbara. The discrepancy stemmed from the fact the 11th person was thought to be in the county but ultimately was located in Oxnard, ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Thursday night.
Drug offenses marked the largest category of criminal convictions, followed by domestic violence, DUIs, sex crimes and battery. But offenses of those taken into custody in the Southern California operation ranged from rape and manslaughter to burglary and obstructing justice.
The criminal histories of those from Santa Barbara County were not available.
In the first 100 days since President Donald Trump took office, ICE has arrested more than 41,000 individuals who were either known or suspected of being in the country illegally. The agency said the number reflects an increase of 37.6 percent over the same period in 2016.