ICE agents continue to remove dangerous criminals wanted in their home countries



(The Center Square) – Federal agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement- Enforcement and Removal Operations (ICE-ERO) continue to remove violent criminals wanted in their home countries after they’ve fled to the U.S. to avoid going to prison.

In south Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, ICE ERO-Harlingen agents removed a Salvadoran national wanted by El Salvadoran authorities for human smuggling and illicit association.

On Dec. 8, an ICE ERO removal team escorted Juan Carlos Pena Escobar, 46, on a flight from Harlingen, Texas, to San Salvador, El Salvador. Upon arrival, they turned him over to Salvadoran authorities without incident.

Pena Escobar illegally entered the U.S. near Hidalgo, Texas, on Aug. 28, according to federal records, “without inspection, admission or parole by an immigration officer.” The next day, he was arrested by Border Patrol agents.

“We will remain committed to our mission of removing criminal noncitizens wanted in their home countries,” ICE ERO Harlingen Field Office Director Miguel Vergara said. “Wanted fugitives will not find refuge in the United States.”

ICE ERO-New York City agents also removed a Salvadoran fugitive on Dec. 8 who illegally entered the U.S. who was wanted in El Salvador for aggravated homicide.

Agents transported Jose Omar Rodriguez, 34, from Alexandria International Airport in Louisiana to San Salvador International Airport in El Salvador and turned him over to the National Civil Police of El Salvador upon arrival.

Rodriguez “entered the United States on an unknown date and at an unknown location without admission, parole or admittance by an immigration officer,” ICE said.

After learning that Rodriguez was wanted for aggravated homicide by Salvadoran officials, ICE ERO-New York City Fugitive Operations officers were able to arrest him on May 15, outside of a residence in Far Rockaway, and initiated removal proceedings, according to a recent ICE announcement. On Aug. 10, a New York City immigration judge ordered him to be removed to El Salvador. He filed an appeal with the Board of Immigration of Appeals on Sept. 7, which the board dismissed on Nov. 15.

“Noncitizens like Mr. Rodriguez who attempt to exploit the immigration laws of the United States to evade prosecution in their homes countries will be located, arrested and placed into removal proceedings” ERO New York City Field Office Director Kenneth Genalo said. “We will continue to collaborate with our international law enforcement partners to ensure these fugitives are returned to their home countries to face justice.”

Both Pena Escobar and Rodriguez illegally entered the U.S. as “gotaways,” the official CBP term used to describe foreign nationals who illegally enter the U.S. between ports of entry to evade capture by law enforcement agents. They don’t turn back to Mexico or Canada and officials have no idea how many, who or where they are. An estimated 1.7 to 2 million gotaways are believed to have illegally entered the U.S. since President Joe Biden took office, the highest number on record, The Center Square first reported.

ICE ERO-Washington, D.C. agents also recently removed a Peruvian national wanted in his home country who was convicted of forced disappearance.

Agents removed Raul Herbert Manyari-Castellares, 62, on Dec. 8 and turned him over to Peruvian authorities without incident.

He originally entered the U.S. on Oct. 1, 2022, nine days before he was convicted in Peru. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents admitted him into the U.S. at the Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia.

On Oct. 10, 2022, the National Superior Court of Specialized Criminal Justice in Lima, Peru, convicted him of forced disappearance, sentenced him to 15 years in prison, and issued an arrest warrant for him. However, he had already fled the country to the U.S. It would take until Aug. 7, 2023, for ICE ERO-Baltimore’s Fugitive Operations Team to arrest him in Perry Hall, Maryland.

Forced disappearance charges often involve murder, abduction, illegal detention and torture, according to the International Red Cross. Victims are presumed to be killed but often their bodies are never found.

“Raul Herbert Manyari-Castellares committed a heinous crime in his home country and attempted to hide out in the United States,” said ERO Washington, D.C. Assistant Field Office Director Daniel Nichols. “We will not allow such criminals to use our Washington, D.C. communities as a refuge from justice. ERO Washington, D.C. will continue to aggressively pursue unlawfully present noncitizens attempting to escape the justice system in their native lands.”

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