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16.06.2005 Diaspora News

Ghanaian Illegal Busted Massachusetts, As...

Ghanaian Illegal Busted  Massachusetts, As...

...105 suspected Mass. illegals scooped by feds A Ghanaian national, convicted of unspecified ``human rights violations was among 105 allegedly illegal Massachusetts residents grabbed by federal agents during a six-day sweep that was part of what is believed to be the largest dragnet of its kind by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements field office.

Operation FLASH, organized by the Department of Homeland Security, targeted about 200 illegal New England residents who have been convicted of crimes and ordered to be deported, ICE officials said.

As of yesterday, immigration officials had nabbed 85 of those targeted plus 60 illegal immigrants without rap sheets but marked for deportation for other reasons from Maine to Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Authorities also made 42 ``collateral'' arrests of immigrants who haven't been ordered to leave the country but are here illegally.

The illegal immigrants arrested in the sweep, which began Friday, were convicted of a wide range of crimes, including attempted murder, rape, child molestation and arson. One of the targets, a Ghana national, had been convicted of unspecified ``human rights violations.''

ICE officials described the operation as a chance to protect residents from neighborhood crime as well as improve national security.

``American citizens are far more likely to be a victim of a violent crime in their own community than a victim of a terrorist attack,'' said Brad Chadbourne, New England field director for ICE, which is part of Homeland Security.

The number of arrests could rise sharply this year: Homeland Security officials recently announced plans to increase the number of ICE ``fugitive apprehension teams'' to 38 from 18 within the next two months, Chadbourne said. Each team consists of roughly seven agents.

Anthony Drago, a Boston defense attorney specializing in immigration law, said the government has been far more aggressive and effective in rounding up illegal immigrants since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

``The belt is continuing to tighten,'' Drago said.