hot-topic6A report in today’s Star-Ledger says that Red Bank was among the New Jersey cities and towns that yielded up 46 suspected gang members to a federal sweep over the past two weeks.

The suspects include alleged members of violent gangs such as MS-13, Sureno 13, Gran Familia Mexicana and the Bloods, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement.

The names of only four suspects were released, but that information was not accompanied by the locations of their arrests or residence, nor were town-by-town numbers of suspects released.

ICE spokesman Harold Ort told the Sledger that most of the arrests took place in Asbury Park, Long Branch, Red Bank, Bound Brook and Union City, the paper reported.

From the Sledger:

Of those arrested, 33 are believed to be in the country illegally and face deportation, Ort said. Also, he said, 15 were arrested on state charges, including aggravated assault and theft of property, and three will be prosecuted at the federal level.

Most of the suspects are from El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines, Ort said.

He identified only four alleged gang members: Javier Castro, 24, of MS-13; Moises Cabrera, 19, with the Trinitario gang; Israel Nocelotl, 20; and Mario Onorio, 22, with the Los Pitufos gang. Their hometowns were not provided.

Another suspect, Christian Garro-Chavez, 25, was arrested in connection with the sexual abuse of a child in Costa Rica, Ort said. He said Garro-Chavez is not a suspected gang member.

One firearm, along with numerous items of gang paraphernalia, including T-shirts, bandannas and flags with gang symbols painted on them, was seized in the roundup, which ended on Saturday.

The sweep was part of ICE’s Operation Community Shield campaign, which in cooperation with state and local authorities, targets violent gangs. Since its inception in February 2005, more than 12,968 gang members have been arrested, Ort said.

The campaign initially focused on MS-13 members, a transnational street gang with roots in Central America, according to the agency’s Web site.

In May, the program expanded to target all transnational gangs, but the agency’s raids have been criticized for targeting illegal immigrants and not being tailored narrowly enough toward gang members.

In a press release, Ort said all suspects were targeted for their “membership, participation, or association with violent street gangs.”

In November, ICE agents arrested 33 people in Butler and Bloomingdale, including 12 people the agency said were gang members from Mexico.

Multiple agencies participated in the recent roundups, Ort said, including the Somerset and Hudson County Prosecutor’s Offices, as well as police departments in Bound Brook, Red Bank, Long Branch and West New York.