MINNEAPOLIS - A federal grand jury on Thursday returned separate indictments against five men for allegedly re-entering the United States after having been previously deported. All the men had been arrested in August during an operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
In indictments filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, the following Mexican nationals were each charged with one count of illegal entry after deportation: Ausencio Garcia- Santana, 42; Arturo Hernandez-Rivera, 46; Juan Pablo Arvizu-Cruz, 29; Salvador Landa-Meraz, 22; and Daniel Rosales-Davila, 27.
"We are a compassionate nation with a proud history of immigration," said ICE Director John Morton. "But we are also a nation governed by laws specifically designed to protect its citizens and residents. Those who come to the United States to prey upon our neighbors and communities will be prosecuted for their crimes and ultimately returned to their home countries. The results of this operation demonstrate ICE's commitment to that principle."
The Garcia-Santana indictment alleges that on Aug. 24, he was found in the U.S. illegally after having been previously deported. His deportation followed a jail term in California that resulted from a 1990 conviction for selling a controlled substance. The current federal indictment was filed pursuant to his Aug. 24 arrest, which was part of a three-day arrest of illegal aliens throughout the Midwest called Operation Cross Check. That operation yielded 370 arrests across a 10-state area, including 48 in Minnesota.
Hernandez-Rivera's indictment alleges that on Aug. 26 he was in the U.S. illegally, after being deported for a 2006 Ramsey County conviction of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. He was among those arrested as part of Operation Cross Check.
According to the indictment filed against Arvizu-Cruz, he was found in the United States on April 18 after having been deported on March 25, 2009. That deportation followed a 2009 Scott County conviction for terroristic threats. His April 18 arrest was for driving while under the influence. While in custody on that charge, he was identified as an illegal alien through ICE's Criminal Alien Program (CAP). CAP locates criminal aliens incarcerated in federal and state prisons, as well as in local jails, and prevents them from being released into the general population.
Landa-Meraz also was identified through the CAP initiative shortly after his July 16, 2009 arrest by St. Cloud, Minn., police for drunken driving. According to his indictment, Landa- Meraz had been deported after a 2007 Stearns County conviction for second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.
The Rosales-Davila indictment alleges that on Aug. 16 he was in the U.S. illegally, after being deported following a 2008 Hennepin County conviction for the third-degree sale of controlled substances. The current federal indictment resulted from his recent arrest by the Minnesota State Patrol for driving while intoxicated.
In addition to special projects, such as Operation Cross Check, and ongoing initiatives, including CAP, ICE identifies deported aliens who have illegally re-entered the country through its Fugitive Operation Teams. The agents who make up those teams locate absconders who have outstanding orders of deportation.
If convicted of the federal charges filed against them, the five men named in the federal indictments filed Sept. 16 each face a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge. All five men will remain in ICE custody until their current federal cases are resolved. If the defendants are convicted in those cases, they will be deported to Mexico after serving their sentences.
The Garcia-Santana case is the result of an investigation by ICE, the Minnesota State Patrol, and the U.S. Marshals Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles J. Kovats Jr.
The Hernandez-Rivera case is the result of an investigation by ICE and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David P. Steinkamp.
The Arvizu-Cruz case is the result of an investigation by ICE and the Savage Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin S. Ueland.
The Landa-Meraz case is the result of an investigation by ICE, the St. Cloud Police Department, and the Stearns County Sheriff's Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lola Velazquez-Aguilu.
The Rosales-Davila case is the result of an investigation by ICE and the Minnesota State Patrol.