In Project Southern Tempest, the latest federal gang sweep, 678 gang members were arrested in 168 U.S. cities from Atlanta to South Salt Lake, Utah over the last two weeks, says the Christian Science Monitor. Project Southern Tempest is part of Operation Community Shield, a five-year effort that unites federal, state, and local law enforcement against gangs with ties to international drug syndicates, primarily those in Mexico. Southern Tempest notched the 20,000th arrest of the program.
“A Mexican criticism that we hear is, ‘Why isn’t the U.S. doing more to fight the cartels north of the border?’ ” says David Shirk of the Transborder Institute at the University of California-San Diego. Project Southern Tempest shows that “is exactly what ICE [the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency] and other  agencies are trying to do,” he adds. The problem for ICE is that it can’t control the fundamental driver of the entire equation: American demand for illegal drugs. “In the end, you can arrest people all day long, and as long as the market demand remains strong there will be new entrepreneurs who rise to satisfy that demand,” Shirk says.