MIAMI – Federal immigration authorities arrested 183 fugitives and other illegal immigrants in Florida alone last week, the state's largest roundup in a single week, officials said Monday.
The arrests included people convicted of sex offenses, child abuse, cocaine trafficking and weapons violations. They were originally from 26 countries and most eventually will be deported.
"Anybody who is a fugitive from justice is a danger to the community," said Michael Rozos, the field director in Miami of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's "Operation Phoenix" effort to find and deport fugitive illegal immigrants.
"These operations have been going on for years, but they have become more focused," he said.
Of the 183 arrested, 130 were fugitives who had already been ordered deported by an immigration judge. The remaining 53 were also illegal immigrants who happened to be present when fugitives were taken into custody, Rozos said.
The fugitive operation is separate from another ICE-led crackdown on employers who hire and harbor illegal immigrants. Rozos said both are part of the Secure Border Initiative, a Homeland Security Department plan intended to beef up enforcement of existing immigration laws inside the U.S. and toughen border security.
Ninety-five of those arrested were in South Florida, 35 were arrested in Tampa, 30 in Jacksonville and 23 in Orlando, according to ICE.