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US arrests 183 fugitives, illegal immigrants in Florida

The Associated Press

MIAMI, Fla. — U.S. immigration authorities arrested 183 fugitives and other illegal immigrants across Florida last week, the largest total ever in a single week in the state, officials said Monday.

Those arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement included convicted people convicted of sex offenses, child abuse, cocaine trafficking and weapons violations. They were originally from 26 countries and most will eventually be deported back to those countries.

"Anybody who is a fugitive from justice is a danger to the community," said Michael Rozos, the field director in Miami of ICE'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."

Of the 183, 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 one or more of the 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. But 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, with 35 arrested in Tampa, 30 in Jacksonville and 23 in Orlando, according to ICE.

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