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

Tag Archives: MS-13

Honduras Man Deported by ICE; Wanted for Violent Murder with Machete

An illegal alien residing in Randallstown, Md. wanted in Honduras, his native country, for homicide and robbery was deported early Friday, January 25, 2013, by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). He was turned over to Honduran law enforcement authorities after arriving on an ICE Air Operations repatriation charter flight.

Oscar Orlando Amador Centeno, 30, a known MS-13 gang member, was deported Jan. 29, 2010 for the offense of illegal entry into the U.S. and illegally re-entered the country at an unknown time and place. He was arrested April 9, 2012 by ERO Baltimore officers attached to the U.S. Marshal’s Service Capital Area Regional Task Force at his Maryland residence after he was identified as illegally re-entering the country after having been removed, a federal felony offense. Prior to his arrest, the task force obtained an Interpol Red Notice issued September 2011, stating that Amador Centeno was wanted in his native country pursuant to an Aug. 12, 2011 arrest warrant for murder and robbery. On Aug. 1, 2012, he was convicted of re-entry of removed alien inMarylandand sentenced to four months with credit for time served. On Sept. 28, 2012, he was released to ICE custody on a detainer.

“Removing known gang members and foreign fugitives from theU.S.is an ICE priority in maintaining the safety and quality of life that the citizens of Marylandexpect,” said Calvin McCormick, field office director for ERO Baltimore. “This deportation should serve as a reminder to foreign fugitives who mistakenly believe they can elude justice by fleeing to the U.S. ICE will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners, both domestic and abroad, not only to ensure that criminals are held accountable for their actions, but to safeguard the rights of law-abiding citizens here and overseas.”

According to Amador Centeno’s Interpol Red Notice, on July 19, 2010 in Olancho, Honduras, he struck his victim three times in the head with a machete on a soccer field and stole their wallet. If convicted on the murder charges, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

ERO has removed numerous individuals wanted for violent crimes to Honduras. This is attributed to the expanded cooperation between ICE and law enforcement authorities in Honduras to identify, arrest and repatriate Honduran criminal suspects who flee to the U.S. to avoid justice. ICE officers are working closely with the Honduras National Police Interpol Officers and Honduras Immigration as part of this effort. As a result, in fiscal year 2012, ICE assisted the Honduras National Police in taking custody of 60 suspected criminals, immediately upon their return to Honduras aboard ICE Air Operations removal flights. More than a fourth of those suspects involved homicide related charges.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 566 foreign fugitives from theU.S.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 U.S. and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.

MS-13 Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Racketeering Scheme that Resulted in Two Murders

Dennis L. Gil-Bernardez, an MS-13 member who also is known as Pando, pled guilty Friday, December 7, 2012, to taking part in a federal racketeering conspiracy that was responsible for numerous crimes, including two murders, in the Washington, D.C., region. The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. of the District of Columbia, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, and Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

Gil-Bernardez, 36, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Judge Rosemary M. Collyer sentenced him to 76 years in prison. The sentence will run concurrently with an 80-year prison term that Gil-Bernardez already is serving in another gang-related case in Virginia.

The defendant was among a group of MS-13 members indicted in November 2011. As part of his plea, he admitted that he was in MS-13’s Normandie clique, and that, after consulting with an incarcerated member of MS-13 in El Salvador, he ordered the murder of Louis Membreno-Zelaya, which was committed by other MS-13 members. Membreno-Zelaya, 27, was found, stabbed to death, on Nov. 6, 2008, in Northwest Washington.

In his plea, Gil-Bernardez admitted that MS-13 is a transnational criminal street gang with a presence in at least 20 states and the District of Columbia, as well as many Central American countries, including El Salvador and Honduras, which is Gil-Bernardez’s country of origin. According to court documents, members of MS-13 use violence and intimidation to protect the gang and enhance its reputation. The gang is involved in murder, attempted murder, robbery, extortion and obstructing justice through the intimidation and threatening of witnesses.

In addition to ordering the murder of Membreno-Zelaya, Gil-Bernardez also admitted today to shooting a person whom he believed to be a rival gang member in April 2008. The victim was shot five times and hospitalized for a week after undergoing life-saving surgery.

Finally, Gil-Bernardez admitted to murdering Luis Chavez-Ponce, 22, July 29, 2008, in Riverdale Park, Md., believing Chavez-Ponce to be a rival gang member. Gil-Bernardez stopped one of the other MS-13 members from chasing after the victim, who was on a bicycle. Gil-Bernardez chased Chavez-Ponce around the corner of a building and fired several shots, killing him.

The gun which Gil-Bernardez used in the murder of Chavez-Ponce was determined to be the same weapon used in the shooting of three people in Reston, Va., in October 2008, to which Gil-Bernardez also admitted. His 80-year sentence in Virginia is a result of those crimes, which were prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. This latest plea is one of several by MS-13 members in recent months in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The prosecution grew out of the efforts of the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, a multi-agency team that conducts comprehensive, multi-level attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the nationwide program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

This case was investigated by ICE, MPD, Prince George’s County Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department and Fairfax County Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Laura Gwinn, of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nihar R. Mohanty and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill O’Malley.

MS-13 Gang Officially Designated a Transnational Criminal Organization by HSI

On Thursday, October 11, 2012, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) with the assistance of the Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) designated the Latin American gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a transnational criminal organization (TCO). This group is being designated by Treasury pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13581, which targets significant TCOs and their supporters. E.O. 13581 is a key part of the National Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime.

Using the authority provided in E.O. 13581, Treasury is targeting the economic power of MS-13 as a transnational criminal network – and those individuals and entities who work with them, enable them and support them – by freezing any assets those persons may have within U.S. jurisdiction. Any property or property interests in the U.S., or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which these targets have an interest are blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

“This designation allows us to strike at the financial heart of MS-13 and is a powerful weapon in our fight to dismantle one of the most violent, transnational criminal organizations operating today,” said ICE Director John Morton. “History has proven that we can successfully take down organized crime groups when we combine sophisticated investigative techniques with tough street level enforcement, cutting off cash flows, contraband and collaborators to ensure they no longer find safe haven in our communities.”

“MS-13 is an extremely violent and dangerous gang responsible for a multitude of crimes that directly threaten the welfare and security of U.S. citizens, as well as countries throughout Central America,” Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen stated. “This action positions us to target the associates and financial networks supporting MS-13, and gives law enforcement an additional tool in its efforts to disrupt MS-13’s activities.”

MS-13 is being designated for its involvement in serious criminal activities, including drug trafficking, human smuggling and sex trafficking, murder and violence, racketeering, and immigration offenses. MS-13, consisting of at least 30,000 members and present in at least five countries, including the United States, is one of the most dangerous criminal gangs in the world today. MS-13 violently protects its illicit interests through murder, murder for hire, kidnapping, blackmail, extortion and assassination. MS-13’s creed is exemplified by one of its mottos, “mata, roba, viola, controla,” which translates in sum and substance to “kill, steal, rape, control.” In addition, MS-13 members have been responsible for numerous killings within the United States.

The HSI National Gang Unit will take the law enforcement lead, under this MS-13 enforcement effort dubbed, “Operation Barbed Wire.” The National Gang Unit removes gang members from our neighborhoods and, when appropriate, from the United States. In 2005, HSI initiated Operation Community Shield, an international law enforcement initiative to enhance U.S. public safety. Operation Community Shield partners with existing federal, state and local anti-gang efforts to identify violent street gangs and develop intelligence on gang members and associates, gang criminal activities and international movements, to arrest, prosecute, imprison and/or deport transnational gang members as well as to suppress violence and prosecute criminal enterprises. The National Gang Unit’s goal is to deter, disrupt and dismantle gang operations by tracing and seizing cash, weapons and other assets derived from criminal activities. Since 2006, HSI has arrested 4,078 MS-13 gang members and, partnering with the U.S. Department of Justice, has successfully brought to indictment numerous MS-13 racketeering investigations in Washington, D.C., Virginia, New York, San Francisco, Houston, and Atlanta.

MS-13 is the first transnational criminal street gang designated as a TCO. Others TCOs include the The Brothers’ Circle, Camorra, Yakuza, and Los Zetas in the United States.

Criminal Alien and Child Predator Sentenced for Illegal Reentry

A citizen and national of El Salvador and a member of the MS-13 street gang who was previously convicted of sexually assaulting a child in Fairfax County, Va., was sentenced to 12 months in federal prison Friday, August 31, 2012, for illegally reentering the United States after having been previously deported.

The case of illegal re-entry was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

According to court documents, Salvador Portillo, 30, illegally entered the United States and was removed by ICE Oct. 8, 2003. Thereafter, Portillo again illegally reentered the United States.

On Dec. 26, 2010, he sexually assaulted an 8-year-old girl in Fairfax County, Va. He was subsequently convicted of rape and sodomy in Fairfax County Circuit Court and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The 12 month sentence for illegal re-entry will follow the completion of the sentence term imposed by Fairfax County.

Portillo pleaded guilty to illegal re-entry July 23.