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ICE arrests 2,901 criminal aliens in 7-day operation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have arrested 2,901 convicted criminal aliens in the biggest operation of its kind, ICE Director John Morton said on Wednesday.

The seven-day "Cross Check" operation this week involved arrests in all 50 states and four U.S. territories, Morton told a news conference.

"You are going to see a sustained focus on criminal offenders from this agency," he said.

"These are not the kind of people we want walking our streets."

All those arrested had criminal convictions and will be deported, Morton said. More than 1,600 had felony convictions, including manslaughter, attempted murder and drug trafficking.

Forty-two of those arrested were gang members, and 151 were sex offenders. Those arrested included nationals of the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Mexico, Panama and Honduras.

Morton estimated that about a million people with criminal convictions and subject to removal were still in the United States. The ICE deports about 390,000 people a year, about half of them criminals.

The first "Cross Check" operation aimed at criminal aliens took place in December 2009, with the first nationwide one in May.

A total of 4,506 convicted criminals, fugitives and aliens who re-entered the United States illegally after removal were arrested in those earlier operations.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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