Making Immigration Happen
Chicago Woman Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens
A woman was arrested Wednesday, February 13, 2013, on charges she allegedly sold fraudulent identity documents to illegal aliens. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigra

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ICE Target Operation Arrests 97 Criminal Aliens and Immigration Fugitives in Michigan

As part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ongoing efforts to focus agency resources on the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators, 97 convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and other immigration violators were arrested during a four-day operation in West Michigan.

This operation concluded late Thursday, January 10, 2013, and was conducted by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) teams from Grand Rapids and Detroit.

Of the 97 arrested, 60 had prior convictions for crimes such as: sex with a minor, assault, illegal firearm possession, drug possession and theft. Twenty three are immigration fugitives who had been previously ordered to leave the country but failed to depart; 11 others had been previously deported and illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony. Three other immigration violators were arrested during the operation and placed in removal proceedings.

Following is the nationality breakdown of the 86 men and 11 women arrested: Mexico (66), Guatemala (18), Honduras (3), Laos (2), Dominican Republic (2), Canada (1), Romania (1), Cambodia (1),Vietnam (1), India (1), and Thailand (1). Arrests were made in the following 11 West Michigan communities:Grand Rapids, Holland, Wyoming, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Fennville, Grant, Niles, Kentwood, Newaygo and Pullman.

Following are summaries of three individuals arrested during this operation:

  • A 39-year-old Laotian man with a prior conviction for criminal sexual conduct with a minor, assault on a female and petty theft. He was arrested Jan. 8 at a residence in Holland and will remain in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.
  • A 38-year-old Mexican man, who was previously deported, has a prior conviction for firearm possession. He was arrested Jan. 7 at residence in Grand Rapids. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has accepted this case for criminal prosecution for re-entry after deportation.
  • A 56-year-old Mexican man who has a prior conviction for assault with a dangerous weapon. He was arrested Jan. 6 at a residence in Grand Rapids and will remain in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

“Our focus on priority targets continues to contribute significantly to the safety and security of communities in West Michigan and throughout the state,” said Rebecca Adducci, field office director for ERO Detroit. “By targeting criminal aliens and egregious immigration violators, we are ensuring the best use of agency resources and a continued focus on public safety.”

This enforcement action was spearheaded by ICE’s National Fugitive Operations Program, which is responsible for investigating, locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives.

ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security. ICE also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system including immigration fugitives or criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.

HSI Target Operation Seizes 2,600 Pounds of Cocaine

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working jointly with other members of the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF), arrested two Dominican Republic nationals for drug trafficking and seized 2,600 pounds of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $29 million Wednesday, January 2, 2013, off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico.

“In less than one week HSI and its partners in the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force have seized more than 2,800 pounds of cocaine,” said Angel Melendez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. “These seizures and related arrests are clear proof that HSI, along with our state and federal partners, is vigilant and will not tolerate the importation of illegal drugs into the United States through Puerto Rico.”

Earlier the week ending in Friday, January 4, 2013, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter intercepted a private vessel 43 nautical miles off of the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, occupied by two Dominican Republic nationals and carrying 40 bales with approximately 2,600 pounds of cocaine. According to the criminal complaint, Jose De Leon and Wilson Concepción, both 40, knowingly and intentionally conspired to possess with the intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine on board a vessel subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The District of Puerto Rico was the first point where the defendants entered the United States after the commission of the offense.

De Leon and Concepción were transferred to the Guaynabo Metropolitan Detention Center in Puerto Rico awaiting the outcome of their case.

CCSF is an initiative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office created to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations operating in the Caribbean. CCSF is part of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force that investigates South American-based drug trafficking organizations responsible for the movement of multi-kilogram quantities of narcotics using the Caribbean as a transshipment point for further distribution to the United States. The initiative is composed of HSI, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, the Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Puerto Rico Police Department’s United Forces for Rapid Action.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected weapons and narcotics smuggling and related information by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.

Iran National Deported for Smuggling Nuclear Technology to Iran

One of three men who conspired to illegally ship highly specialized vacuum pump equipment with nuclear applications from the United States to Iran was deported Friday, January 4, 2013, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Amirhossein Sairafi, 44, was released from federal prison Thursday, January 3, 2013, and immediately deported from Chicago via commercial flight, arriving Jan. 4 in Tehran, Iran.

Sairafi is one of three co-defendants who conspired to ship items from the United States to Iran, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and U.S. sanctions imposed on that country. Sairafi pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles to conspiring to defraud the United States, money laundering and violating the IEEPA. He was sentenced March 7, 2011, to 41 months in federal prison. He was released from the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institute in Indiana Jan. 3 and taken into ICE custody.

According to federal court documents, co-defendant Jiraiir Avanessian owned and operated XVAC, a company located in Glendale, Calif. Avanessian corresponded with co-defendants Farhad Masoumian and Sairafi via email for at least two years to arrange the illegal export of expensive vacuum pumps and related equipment to Iran through a free-trade zone in the United Arab Emirates. As part of the conspiracy, Sairafi re-labeled the shipments to mask their true contents and avoid interception by U.S. customs officials.

The vacuum pumps and related devices at issue in this case can potentially be used to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel.

Sairafi was arrested in January 2010 by German authorities and subsequently extradited to the United States to face prosecution.

“This individual’s criminal conviction and resulting deportation underscore ICE’s commitment to promoting public safety and national security,” said Ricardo Wong, field office director for ERO Chicago.

The criminal case against Sairafi was investigated by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI, and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division.

One of ICE’s highest priorities is to prevent illicit procurement networks, terrorist groups and hostile nations from illegally obtaining U.S. military products, sensitive technology, weapons of mass destruction, or chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials. HSI’s Counter-Proliferation Investigations Program oversees a broad range of investigative activities related to such violations. It enforces U.S. laws involving the export of military items and controlled dual-use goods, as well as exports to sanctioned or embargoed countries.

Mexican National Deported for Homicide

A man from Mexico with a U.S. manslaughter conviction, who is also wanted in his home country for homicide, was deported and turned over to Mexican law enforcement authorities Wednesday, December 19, 2012, by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Jorge Gonzalez-Acosta, 46, first illegally entered the United States in August 1982. He pleaded guilty in 1987 to voluntary manslaughter in the Southern District of Texas, and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. While serving this sentence, a federal immigration judge ordered his deportation. He was released from prison and removed to Mexico in June 1996.

Afterwards, and on various occasions, Gonzalez-Acosta illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony. He was twice prosecuted for this crime, and was sentenced to 37 months in prison and 57 months in prison in December 2004 and March 2009, respectively.

Gonzalez-Acosta was released from his latest prison sentence into ICE custody Dec. 11, 2012. ICE officers worked with Mexico’s Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) to identify that Gonzalez-Acosta was wanted for homicide in Mexico. PGR’s attaché to ICE assisted with providing copies of the warrant and assisted with coordinating the removal with PGR authorities at the U.S./Mexico International Border at Laredo,Texas, Dec. 19.

“This particularly egregious case shows how our ERO officers help protect public safety on a daily basis,” said Simona Flores, field office director for ERO Dallas. “We work closely with our law enforcement partners to remove dangerous criminal aliens from our local communities, and then remove them from the country.”

ERO is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security. ERO also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system, including immigration fugitives or those criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 500 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE’s Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.

ICE Deports El Salvador National Wanted for Murder

An El Salvadoran national wanted for aggravated homicide in his home country was removed from the United States Tuesday, December 18, 2012, and turned over to El Salvadoran law enforcement officials by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

David Guzman-Urias aka El Directo, 24, is wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant in El Salvador which alleges that Oct. 28, 2007, at about 6:30 p.m., he committed aggravated homicide against David William Mejia with a machete. According to reports, the two men were drinking with another unidentified subject at a soccer field. Upon learning that Mejia had consumed all of the alcohol, Guzman allegedly thrust the machete into Mejia’s abdomen and continued to stab and cut him more than 20 times.

Guzman entered the United States illegally approximately Dec. 10, 2007. He was encountered by ERO after his arrest July 13 by the Loudoun County (Va.) Sheriff’s Office. Guzman entered ICE custody Aug. 14 and was served with a notice to appear before an immigration judge. A fingerprint check revealed the outstanding warrant for his arrest in El Salvador. On Sept. 25, an immigration judge ordered Guzman removed from the United States to El Salvador, where he will now face charges for murder.

“ERO is committed to working with our law enforcement partners overseas to ensure that individuals like this, who have violated our nation’s immigration laws and who are wanted for heinous crimes, are sent back to their home countries to face justice there,” said M. Yvonne Evans, field office director for ERO Washington. “We are also fortunate to have local law enforcement partners that value cooperation with ICE and today it has led to the removal of one more suspected murderer out of our communities.”

Guzman was flown via an ERO Air Operations (IAO) Unit charter flight to San Salvador,El  Salvador, where he was turned over to the custody of the Policía Nacional Civil de El Salvador. Guzman’s removal was coordinated with the assistance of the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Salvador.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 500 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE’s Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.

ICE Target Operation Arrests 34 Criminal Aliens

As part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators, officers of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Baltimore arrested 34 convicted criminal aliens during a two-day enforcement operation on the Maryland Eastern Shore.

“The results of this targeted enforcement operation underscore ICE’s ongoing commitment to protect public safety with a focus on the arrest and removal of convicted criminal aliens and those that game our nation’s immigration system,” said Calvin McCormick, field office director for ERO Baltimore. “ERO officers will work tirelessly to pursue leads in locating, apprehending and removing these at-large criminal aliens and repeat immigration violators from our Maryland communities that have blatantly disregarded the law.”

ERO Baltimore’s Criminal Alien Program (CAP) led the effort concluded Tuesday, December 18, 2012, which resulted in the arrest of priority targets in multiple Maryland counties including: Annapolis (9), Berlin (1), Queen Anne (3), Talbot (11) and Wicomico (10).

The 34 criminal aliens arrested during this week’s operation have criminal convictions for crimes to include driving under the influence of alcohol, theft, criminal possession of a controlled substance, robbery and escape. Two individuals were identified as illegally re-entering the country after having been removed and will be presented to the United States Attorney’s Office for prosecution for illegal re-entry into the United States after deportation, a federal felony offense.

Following is the nationality breakdown of the 32 men and two woman arrested: Mexico(15), Guatemala (8), El Salvador (4), Honduras (4), Ecuador(1), Trinidad (1) and United Kingdom (1).

This enforcement action was spearheaded by ERO’s CAP, which is responsible for locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens. The officers who conducted the operation received substantial assistance from ERO’s Law Enforcement Support Center, located in Williston, Vt.

ICE Target Operation Arrests 90 Criminal Aliens

As part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators, 90 convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and immigration violators were arrested the week ending in Friday, December 14, 2012, during Operation Bear III throughout central and south Texas.

This six day operation concluded Thursday, December 13, 2012, and was conducted by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) teams in the following five Texas cities: Austin, Laredo, Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, and Waco.

“The results of this targeted enforcement operation underscore ICE’s ongoing commitment to protect public safety,” said Enrique M. Lucero, field office director for ERO San Antonio. “We focus our resources and efforts on arresting and removing convicted criminal aliens and those who disregard our nation’s immigration system.”

The 90 arrested included aliens with criminal convictions such as: aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, indecency with a child, burglary, unlawfully possessing a firearm, aggravated assault, driving while intoxicated and drug possession. Thirteen of those arrested had been previously removed from the country; they are being federally prosecuted for illegally re-entering the United States after having been deported, which is a felony.

Following is the nationality breakdown of the 89 men and one woman arrested: Mexico(83), El Salvador (2), Guatemala (1), Honduras (1), Philippines (1), Portugal (1) and Vietnam (1).

Below are five summaries of those arrested during this six day operation:

  • A 37-year-old Vietnamese national and U.S. permanent resident with three prior criminal convictions for burglary was arrested Dec. 9 in Plugerville, Texas. He remains in ICE custody pending an immigration removal hearing before a federal immigration judge.
  • A 50-year-old previously-removed Mexican national with prior criminal convictions for possessing a controlled substance (cocaine). He was arrested Dec. 8, in Brownsville, Texas, and remains in ICE custody pending federal criminal prosecution for illegally re-entering the United States.
  • A 33-year-old previously-removed Mexican national is a self-admitted Valluco gang member with prior criminal convictions for robbery and possessing a controlled substance (cocaine). He was arrested Dec. 9 in McAllen, Texas. He remains in ICE custody pending criminal prosecution for illegally re-entering the United States.
  • A 55-year-old Mexican national and U.S.permanent resident with prior criminal convictions for indecency with a child (sexual contact) was arrested Dec. 8 in Laredo, Texas. He remains in ICE custody pending an immigration removal hearing before a federal immigration judge.
  • A 30-year-old Mexican national and U.S. permanent resident was arrested Dec. 10 in San Antonio. He has prior criminal convictions for assault causing bodily injury to a family member and two convictions for theft. He remains in ICE custody pending an immigration removal hearing before a federal immigration judge.

ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security.

Mexican National Convicted for Drug Trafficking and Immigration Charges

A federal grand jury Wednesday, December 12, 2012, returned a guilty verdict against a local resident on cocaine trafficking and immigration charges after a two day trial. The case was investigated by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Godofredo Barraza-Flores, 32, and co-defendant Carlos Ramirez-Talamantes, 23, both Mexican nationals, were charged in July 2011 in a four-count indictment alleging a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and four cocaine-trafficking offenses. Ramirez-Talamantes was arrested July 22, 2011, and entered a guilty plea March 23.

Barraza-Flores has been in federal custody since his Aug. 30, 2011 arrest. On Sept. 5, 2012, Barraza-Flores was charged in a five-count superseding indictment with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, distributing cocaine and re-entry into the United States by a previously deported alien.

Barraza-Flores’ trial on the superseding indictment began Dec. 12. The evidence established that an undercover New Mexico State Police officer bought multi-ounce quantities of cocaine from Ramirez-Talamantes inAlbuquerqueon three occasions: (1) two ounces March 29, 2011, (2) three ounces April 6, 2011, and (3) five ounces May 3, 2011. Immediately before and after each of these three drug deals, surveillance officers observed Ramirez -Talamantes meet with Barraza-Flores.

When he was arrested May 17, 2011, Ramirez-Talamantes possessed nine ounces of cocaine that he intended to sell to the undercover officer, and which he said belonged to Barraza-Flores.

While Ramirez-Talamantes was being interviewed by officers, he received a telephone call from Barraza-Flores. The two talked about how Ramirez-Talamantes would deliver the money from the nine ounce cocaine deal to Barraza-Flores. Shortly thereafter, another man met with Ramirez-Talamantes at the location agreed upon by Barraza-Flores and Ramirez-Talamantes. When questioned by officers, the man said that Barraza-Flores had instructed him to collect a quantity of money from Ramirez-Talamantes.

The jury also learned that Barraza-Flores previously had been deported in February 2006, and had illegally re-entered the United States without obtaining authorization, which is a felony.

The jury deliberated about two and a half hours before returning a guilty verdict on all five counts of the superseding indictment.

Barraza-Flores remains in federal custody pending his sentencing hearing, which has not been scheduled. At sentencing, Barraza-Flores faces up to 20 years of imprisonment and a $1 million fine. He will be turned over to ICE and will be placed in removal proceedings after he completes his prison sentence.

On Aug. 16, 2012, Ramirez-Talamantes was sentenced to a 37-month term of imprisonment. He also will be deported after he completes his prison sentence.

The New Mexico State Police, the Region III Narcotics Task Force, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection also participated in the investigation.

ICE Target Operation Arrests 37 Criminal Alien Sex Offenders

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested 37 foreign nationals with prior convictions for sex offenses during a three-day operation targeting criminal alien sex offenders in the Los Angeles area.

During the enforcement effort, which concluded late Friday, December 7, 2012, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers assigned to the agency’s Fugitive Operations Teams sought to locate and take custody of deportable alien sex offenders in four Southland counties –Los Angeles (16), Orange (4), Ventura (11) and San Bernardino(6). While the majority of those arrested were Mexican citizens (25), the group included nationals of eight other countries, including El Salvador, Honduras, Vietnam, Armenia,  Trinidad, the Philippines, Nicaragua, and Guatemala.

Among those detained during the operation was a citizen of Trinidad and registered sex offender whose prior convictions include sexual battery, battery on a peace officer and annoying or molesting a child under 18. The 56-year-old, who was arrested in Los Angeles Thursday, December 6, 2012, is being held by ICE without bond pending removal from the United States.

Also taken into custody during the operation was a registered sex offender from Mexico who had prior convictions for lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14, drug trafficking, firearms violations and attempted grand theft. The 40-year-old was taken into custody Thursday, December 6, 2012, in Palmdale. He is being held without bond pending removal from the United States.

The arrests were coordinated with ICE’s National Fugitive Operations Program, which is responsible for investigating, locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives – aliens who have ignored final orders of deportation handed down by federal immigration courts. ICE’s Fugitive Operations Teams give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.

“This operation was designed to target and arrest criminal aliens who have been convicted of sex crimes,” said Timothy Robbins, field office director for ERO Los Angeles. “We will all be able to rest easier knowing that these dangerous criminals are off our streets and will soon be out of the United States.”

ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security. ICE also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system including immigration fugitives or criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.

ICE Target Operation Arrests 31 Criminal Aliens and Immigration Fugitives

As part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators, 31 convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and immigration violators were arrested during a two-day operation in the greater Chicago area.

This operation concluded Sunday, December 9, 2012, and was conducted by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations teams in Chicago.

Of the 31 arrested, 22 had prior convictions for crimes such as: battery, aggravated drunken driving, drug possession, child molestation, sexual misconduct and theft. Fifteen are immigration fugitives who had been previously ordered to leave the country but failed to depart; four others had been previously deported and illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony.

Following is the nationality breakdown of the 30 men and one woman arrested: Mexico(19), Honduras (5), Poland (3), Belize(1), El Salvador (1), Guatemala (1) and Laos (1). Arrests were made in the following 15 Chicago-area communities: Addison, Aurora, Berwyn, Bloomingdale, Bolingbrook, Chicago, Chicago Ridge, Elgin, Gurnee, Melrose Park, Montgomery, River Grove, Wauconda, Waukegan and Wheaton. Two arrests were also made in the northwest Indiana communities of Crown Point and Schererville.

Following are summaries of three individuals arrested during this operation:

  • A 46-year-old Laotian man has a prior criminal conviction for lewd or lascivious acts with a minor. He is also an immigration fugitive with an outstanding deportation order. He was arrested Dec. 8 in Chicago and remains in ICE custody pending his deportation.
  • A 44-year-old Honduran man has prior criminal convictions for molesting a minor. He was previously deported in 1990 and illegally re-entered the United States. He was arrested Dec. 8 at his residence in Schererville, Ind., and remains in ICE custody pending his deportation.
  • A 29-year-old Belizean man has criminal convictions for possessing drugs and illegally re-entering the United States after having been deported. He was previously deported three times: in 2004, 2005 and 2006. He was arrested Dec. 8 at his residence in Chicago Ridge and remains in ICE custody pending his deportation. He may face federal prosecution for illegally re-entering the United States after being deported.

“ERO works tirelessly to identify and remove convicted criminal aliens and egregious immigration violators who show a blatant disregard for our immigration laws,” said Ricardo Wong, field office director for ERO Chicago. “By doing so, we significantly improve public safety in our communities while making the best use of our resources.”

This enforcement action was spearheaded by ICE’s National Fugitive Operations Program, which is responsible for investigating, locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives.

ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security. ICE also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system including immigration fugitives or criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.