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ICE agents continue to remove violent foreign nationals

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(The Center Square) – U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement officers continue to remove violent criminals living in the U.S. Recent removals include a Chilean military officer wanted for kidnapping and murder, a Brazilian fugitive wanted for raping a child, and Guatemalans wanted for murder and rape.

In Florida, a court revoked a Chilean’s U.S. citizenship after a multi-agency investigation linked him to crimes committed in Chile’s 1973 military coup, according to a recent ICE announcement. The coup led to General Augusto Pinochet being installed as Chile’s dictator in September 1973 and the subsequent murders of thousands of civilians who opposed him.

ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)-Miami agents removed Pedro Paulo Barrientos Nunez on Nov. 30.

Barrientos reportedly emigrated to Florida in 1990, the same year Pinochet’s dictatorship ended. He applied for citizenship and became a naturalized citizen but in doing so, an investigation decades later found, he “willfully concealed material facts related to his military service in his immigration applications.”

Barrientos was wanted in Chile for his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of the popular folk singer Victor Jara, who supported the socialist President Salvador Allende. Jara was famously riddled with machine gun bullets, his body dumped in the street.

In 2012, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center learned of his alleged involvement in the coup and launched an investigation. By 2016, a jury in a civil case before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida found that he was liable for the torture and killing of Jara. The court then revoked his citizenship on July 14, 2023, based on a complaint filed by the Department of Justice.

On Oct. 5, 2023, HSI-Tampa’s Space Coast office apprehended Barrientos; he was ordered to be removed on Oct. 30, 2023.

In Massachusetts, ICE ERO-Boston agents arrested the Brazilian fugitive in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, on Nov. 28. The 62-year-old man was convicted of child rape by a criminal court in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil. But before his sentencing, and to avoid going to prison, he fled to the U.S. on a tourist visa in April 2023. One month later, Brazilian authorities issued a warrant for his arrest after he failed to appear to serve a 12-year sentence. After ICE ERO-Boston agents apprehended him, he remains in ERO custody pending removal proceedings.

In Maryland, ICE ERO-Baltimore agents arrested a 21-year-old Guatemalan man on Nov. 20, nearly three years after an immigration judge ordered his removal from the U.S.

He illegally entered the U.S. “on an unknown date at an unknown location without being admitted, inspected or paroled by an immigration official,” ICE stated. On Jan. 11, 2017, he was apprehended as an unaccompanied minor by Border Patrol agents near Roma, Texas. He was served with a notice to appear before an immigration judge “as a noncitizen present without admission or parole.” Instead of processing him for deportation, agents transferred him to the oversight of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which then transferred him to his mother who was living in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Within less than two years, he was arrested by Prince George’s County Police Department officers in November 2018 and charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, two counts of assault first degree, firearm use/felony-violent crime, two counts of assault second degree, two counts of reckless endangerment, and handgun on person.

By May 2019, he admitted to officials he was an MS-13 gang member. By July 2019, he was convicted of attempted voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years of supervised probation. However, a judge dismissed more than eight years of his sentence and all remaining charges.

An immigration judge next ordered his removal to Guatemala in absentia in February 2020. It would take nearly three years, until November 2023, for him to be arrested. He remains in ERO custody pending his removal.

In Michigan, ICE ERO-Detroit agents again removed another Guatemalan for the fifth time last month after he illegally entered the U.S. and was wanted in his home country on rape charges. Cesar Antiono Rafael Lopez, 22, was removed to Guatemala on Nov. 24.

He was first arrested by Border Patrol agents near Sasabe, Arizona, on Sept. 29, 2019, and removed to Guatemala on Oct. 3, 2019.

He illegally entered the country again near Deming, New Mexico, on June 3, June 8, and June 12, 2021, was apprehended and returned to Guatemala each time.

However, “on an unknown date and at an unknown location,” he illegally reentered the U.S. “without inspection, admittance or parole by an immigration official,” ICE said.

On Sept. 19, 2023, Wyoming Police Department officers in Michigan arrested him on local charges and held him at the Kent County Jail in Grand Rapids. ICE ERO-Detroit agents lodged a detainer with the jail on the same day, but the jail released him without notifying ICE. It would take another month for federal agents to arrest him and begin his removal process.

“Running from rape charges in your home country will not grant you safe haven here in the United States,” ICE ERO-Detroit Field Office Director Robert Lynch said in a statement. He and other ICE ERO directors have expressed their commitment to “removing dangerous foreign fugitives seeking to evade justice.”

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