Alleged fugitives in the Santa Clarita Valley were arrested by Homeland Security officers last week and were among 36 others across the country arrested in similar raids on suspicion of being a national security threat, helping terrorist groups or participating in human rights violations, according to sources at the Department of Homeland Security.
On Friday, heavily armed officers of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement descended on an area of Canyon Country near Greenbrier Estates off Soledad Canyon Road and Valley Center Drive, according to video released by the Department of Homeland Security.
“These are people, many of them immigrants ordered for removal (from the US),” Lori K. Haley, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, told The Signal Tuesday.
“Beyond that I am not permitted to say anything more,” she said.
Asked how many of the 36 people arrested nationwide were taken from Canyon Country, Haley said she could not comment.
Although she could confirm how many – if any – of the fugitives wanted by ICE were rounded in the SCV up a week ago on Wednesday Sept. 21, ICE officers were shown on their video discussing and preparing to raid a dwelling near Greenbrier Estates in Canyon Country.
Jon Hillner, who lives in the area, witnessed the arrest of one man in a raid he described as fast, efficient and “pretty serious,” he said.
“I saw many cars, six or so, and they apprehended one fellow. They had him in cuffs and in the car very quickly.
“One of the plain clothes police got in his car and drove it away. The other people got in their cars and drove away,” he said. “It was all done in five minutes.
“I knew that it wasn’t (Los Angeles County) Sheriff’s because they were ICE and they were dressed differently than sheriffs. So, I thought to myself this is pretty serious situation.
“There were many of them for one guy,” Hillner said, calling the raid “a well thought-out, quickly executed situation.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 36 fugitives during concurrent nationwide operations such as the one carried out in Canyon Country, called: Operation Safe Nation and Operation No Safe Haven III, according to a news release Haley sent to The Signal.
Of those arrested nationwide, 17 were sought because they may pose a threat to public safety or national security, including individuals suspected of providing material support to a terrorist organization. And 19 were sought for their known or suspected roles in human rights violations overseas.
During the operations that concluded Wednesday, the ICE National Fugitive Operations Program arrested the fugitives in coordination with the ICE Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center, the ICE Counterterrorism Section and ICE field offices in the following cities: Atlanta; Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco and St. Paul, Minnesota.
This concurrent nationwide operation was the first of its kind, according to the news release.
It focused on the apprehension of fugitives known or suspected to pose a danger to public safety or national security and those known or suspected of human rights violations.
“Through the vigorous use of our unique investigative authorities, ICE will continue to ensure that our great nation provides no safe haven for human rights violators and other national security threats,” ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña was quoted as saying in the release. “To those hiding in the shadows: we will find you, arrest you and bring you to justice.”
The foreign nationals arrested during these operations all have outstanding removal orders and are subject to repatriation to their countries of origin.
Of the 36 individuals arrested, four are also criminal aliens, convicted in the U.S. for crimes such as drug trafficking, bribery, domestic violence and driving under the influence.
ICE is committed to rooting out those who pose a threat to national security or public safety, including known or suspected human rights violators who seek a safe haven in the U.S.
It investigates those who try to evade justice by seeking shelter in the U.S., including individuals suspected of providing material support to a terrorist organization, espionage, or export violations, and those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.
“Interpol’s investigative tools provide U.S. law enforcement with a suite of databases that provide real-time biometric, travel document, and criminal background information,” according to Interpol Washington Director Geoffrey S. Shank. “These operations exemplify what can be achieved when U.S. and international law enforcement agencies have immediate access to information.”
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