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Suspected MS-13 gang member arrested in northwest ND

Concepcion Carcamo-Portillo

WILLISTON, N.D.—A suspected member of a notorious international criminal gang has been arrested in Williston and is being held at the Grand Forks County jail.

Border Patrol agents from the Grand Forks Sector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested 39-year-old Concepcion Carcamo-Portillo at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, spokesman Kristoffer Grogan confirmed. Numerous tips from concerned citizens led officers to the El Salvador national, Grogan said.

Investigators determined the man was in the U.S. illegally and is an alleged member of Mara Salvatrucha, also known as the El Salvador-based international criminal organization MS-13.

Carcamo-Portillo was booked Thursday evening into the Grand Forks County Correctional Center.

"This arrest is a testament to our cooperation with our (Department of Homeland Security) partners to disrupt one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the United States," Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke, commander of the Grand Forks sector, said in a statement. "This arrest is the direct result from of information passed from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a call from a concerned citizen."

The DHS and U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in the U.S. and in El Salvador arrested 267 suspected MS-13 members in an effort to crack down on the gang, according to a news release. The arrests were part of Operation Raging Bull and led to arrests in September, October and through Nov. 11, the release said.

Multiple agencies, including Border Patrol and CBP, collaborated in and provided support for the operation.

Carcamo-Portillo's capture was not part of the operation, Grogan said, adding the Williston arrest was an isolated incident. Officers are investigating his suspected role in the gang.

It's unclear if there are other members of MS-13 in the Williston area or in North Dakota, but Grogan said there is no reason to believe the public is in danger. He encouraged anyone who sees suspicious behavior to contact Border Patrol at (800) 982-4077.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248