Immigrants living in more than a dozen Iowa communities have been arrested in a ten-state operation, the largest of its kind ever carried out throughout the Midwest.

The sting targeted convicted criminals who are not U.S. citizens — whether they are here illegally or not — as well as people who had been ordered back to their home country, but were still here. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Carl Rusnok says 28 people were arrested in Iowa.

“There’s probably about 15 or 20 different towns we made arrests in, however, many of those were single arrests,” Rusnok says. “However, in Sioux City we made nine arrests; in Waterloo we made four arrests; in Des Moines we made two.”

This was a federal effort.  Local law enforcement was not involved in making the arrests. “In this particular operation that we have dubbed ‘Cross Check’ we have done research beforehand in order to identify and target these individuals,” Rusnok says.

More than half of those taken into custody in the ten-state sting had prior convictions for serious violent crimes.  Rusnok says that reflects his agency’s focus on arresting immigrants who may pose a threat to public safety. 

A total of 370 people were arrested in the 10 states. This Midwestern sting follows similar operations  across the country over the past nine months.