Seventeen criminal aliens were arrested in a three-day operation across Prince George's and Montgomery counties.
The 17 were considered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be the area's criminal immigrants who posed the biggest threat to public safety or to national security.
"Maryland is safer today because there are 17 fewer criminal aliens in our neighborhoods," said Calvin McCormick of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations Field Office in Baltimore.
Immigration officials vowed to send them back to their home countries, but only after some of them face criminal charges here.
From Tuesday to Thursday, federal agents and local law enforcement officers fanned the two counties and visited the homes of the targets.
The operation was not a job-site sweep. The targets are typically selected from a database of hundreds of thousands of fugitive aliens in the United States, officials said.
ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas said federal statutes prohibited her from releasing the identities of suspects in administrative operations.
Those taken into custody included:
• A 22-year-old illegal alien from Mexico who was convicted in December of second-degree assault.
• A 44-year-old illegal alien from El Salvador with convictions in Prince George's and Montgomery in the mid-1990s for theft and conspiracy to distribute narcotics. He was first deported in 1998.
All 17 were all adult males and all had prior criminal convictions. Six had previous assault convictions, three on drug distribution charges, two were found guilty on weapons counts, three had larceny convictions and one had multiple DUI convictions.
The 17 hailed from countries spanning the globe: the Bahamas, El Salvador, Mexico, the Netherlands, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Sierra Leone.
Two of the individuals will face further federal prosecution for re-entering the country illegally after a formal deportation and having serious criminal records. A conviction for felony re-entry carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Those arrested with outstanding orders of removal will immediately be deported, while others will remain in ICE custody awaiting the outcomes of their cases.
Two of those arrested were also immigration fugitives who had previously been ordered to leave the country but failed to depart. Two others were illegal re-entrants who had been previously removed from the country, making their re-entry a federal felony offense.
The operation was conducted by the Baltimore Field Office, which covers all of Maryland. Since 2007, ICE has been conducting such "Cross Check" operations at various field offices around the country.