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Operation Community Shield Comes To Madison

The Madison Police Department (MPD) teamed up with several federal agencies (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Wisconsin) to take 11 foreign-born gang members off the streets of Dane County yesterday.

"The arrests during this joint operation are consistent with what the MPD has stated in the past: We are focused on removing violent street gang members from our city," said Madison Police Chief Noble Wray. He added, "It is a matter of public safety, and we will continue to work in concert with federal authorities to diminish potential threats."

The operation came in direct response to the April 28, 2010 gang-related murder of Antonio Perez, age 19, of Madison. In the wake of that homicide, the MPD gathered intelligence indicating there could be retaliatory gang violence. The MPD has been vigilant since that time, working to thwart additional public safety threats posed by gang members.

The MPD's concerns meshed well with Operation Community Shield run by ICE's National Gang Unit. As part of the initiative, ICE partners with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies across the country to target the significant public safety threat posed by transnational street gangs. Operation Community Shield was successfully utilized earlier this year in Milwaukee and Chicago.

MPD Criminal Intelligence Section (CIS) leader Capt. Jim Wheeler was also pleased with the results in Dane County. "This operation was narrowly focused on confirmed gang members who pose a threat to public safety and the quality of life in the Madison area," said Wheeler. He added, "We focused on these individuals due to their gang membership, information from their criminal histories and information from confidential informants who advised that gang members were planning retaliation for the murder of the founder of the Clantone 14 (Perez), who was also known as ‘Lil Puppet'."

Captain Wheeler said the target list for Madison's Operation Community Shield consisted of 15 individuals, 11 of whom were taken into custody. The MPD's Crime Prevention & Gang Unit will continue to seek out the four remaining targets.

Those taken into custody are all adult males, ranging in age from 18 to 24. Teams consisting of MPD officers and federal agents went to locations in Madison, Middleton, Waunakee, and Marshall in the early morning hours to apprehend foreign-born gang members.

Chief Wray emphasized that this effort was not a departure from departmental policy: "This in no way changes our approach and philosophy in dealing with other members of our immigrant communities."

The MPD policy on Enforcement of Immigration Laws can be found the departmental website: The policy, in part, states: "The Madison Police Department recognizes and values the diversity of the community it serves … it is the policy of this department that its officers shall not arrest or detain any person solely for a suspected violation of immigration laws, except upon the request of ICE."

Those picked up are being held by ICE on administrative detentions and will face removal proceedings. For more information on their status reporters should contact ICE spokeswoman Gail Montenegro at 312/347-2210.

Since they have not been arrested by the MPD, this department will not be releasing their names.

Captain Wheeler, who headed up the MPD's role in the operation, kept important members of the Latino community apprised of the operation as it was being carried out yesterday. He and the rest of the MPD are appreciative of community support of this important endeavor.

"I want take this opportunity to thank those who were involved in this effort. This operation went smoothly due to the work of officers prior to the operation, the work of the teams that went out to make contact with the targets, and the cooperation of the U.S. Attorney's office, ATF, U.S. Marshals Service, and ICE. The work of these individuals sent a message to the community that we will not tolerate gang activity and that we will work in partnership with other federal agencies to make Madison a great place to live," said Wheeler.


  • Joel DeSpain, 266-4897
  • Gail Montenegro, 312-347-2210