18 undocumented immigrants arrested as part of ICE operation

SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Eighteen undocumented immigrants in Shelby County have been arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officers in recent weeks.

"This operation was targeted towards those offenders who we believe threaten public safety the most," US Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee Michael Dunavant says.

Two of the undocumented immigrants are charged with illegally possessing guns. The rest came back into the country illegally after being deported. Most of them have criminal histories. Some have felony convictions.

"Many of them were committing new and additional crimes here in west Tennessee," Dunavant says, "So, they are doubly violating the law."

Officials say the 18 arrested are not connected.

"We have not alleged any conspiracy or group enterprise," Dunavant says.

ICE says operations like this will continue and says the same kinds of undocumented immigrants will be targeted.

"That's the worst of the worst. Those are the ones we're going after and we will continue to do that as we go along," ICE Assistant Field Office Director Ronald Johnson says.

"Although we are not a border state or district and we're on the interior we are going to enforce the law and stop criminal immigration offenses where we find them and it's here," Dunavant says, "Our goal is to reduce violent crime."

Thirteen other undocumented immigrants were arrested during the operation. They are simply charged with being in the country illegally.