ST. LOUIS - Convicted criminals from other countries were hiding in Missouri and six other states before Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents found them in a month long operation and takedown.
Agents found 35 people in the St. Louis area. One of them was a 54-year-old sex offender from Brazil living in St. Peters. He was arrested on May 30. Agents also caught a 21-year-old woman from Nigeria with an extensive criminal record of ripping off banks and other financial institutions.
A 33-year-old Mexican drug smuggler is also in ICE custody now. Five of them were deported and came back. Another five were given deportation orders and never left.
"By doing these operations, we have an immediate impact in the community. We're taking people out that are criminals, people that we wouldn't want to give an immigration benefit to, people that represent a threat to the community otherwise," said ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer.
The criminals were from Mexico, Guatemala, Nigeria, Italy, Cuba, Brazil, Bosnia, El Salvador and Algeria. They are now in county jails until their deportation. The arrests may give St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez and his officers the chance to do a few more neighborhood patrols and traffic stops.
"Highway 70 is loaded with drugs, guns and money," said Jimenez. "The lesson our department knows is you can take 10 criminals off the streets there's 1,000 more waiting for you. Drugs are everywhere, they are always going to be everywhere. My belief is the federal government (needs to) step in and maybe a little more enforcement."
Jimenez said the drug unit he started when he became chief a little more than a year ago is working more than 70 hours every week to find drugs, guns, money, and human traffickers.