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12/19/2008

84 aliens arrested by ICE Fugitive Operations Teams in the Dallas area

DALLAS - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Friday that its officers arrested 84 fugitive aliens and other immigration violators here and in surrounding communities as part of a five-day operation that ended Thursday.

"Fugitive aliens" are illegal aliens who fail to appear for their immigration hearings, or who abscond after having been ordered to leave the country by a federal immigration judge.

Three local fugitive operations teams began the operation Dec. 14, and made the targeted arrests in the following 18 Metroplex cities: Argyle, Arlington, Balch Springs, The Colony, Carrollton, Dallas, Denton, Duncanville, Farmers Branch, Fort Worth, Garland, Haltom City, Irving, Kennedale, Mesquite, Plano, Richardson and Rowlett. Those arrested are from the following countries: Costa Rica, Mexico, Nepal and Nicaragua.

"This operation removed 40 criminal aliens from our communities," said Nuria T. Prendes, field office director of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Dallas, Texas. "Our Fugitive Operations Teams work to protect public safety, and maintain the integrity of the immigration system." Prendes oversees 128 counties in north Texas and the State of Oklahoma.

Sixty four of those arrested had final orders of deportation; the remaining 20 were immigration violators encountered during the course of the targeted operation.

The three ICE Fugitive Operations Teams in the Dallas area of responsibility in fiscal year 2008 made more than 1,600 arrests. Of this total, more than 1,300 were fugitive aliens who had failed to comply with their outstanding deportation orders; 317 — including 34 with criminal convictions — were illegal aliens encountered by the ICE Fugitive Operations Teams during their targeted arrests.

The following are four of the criminal aliens arrested during this operation:

Henry Joel Hernandez, 24, from Honduras, was arrested in Dallas Dec. 18. He had a warrant for his arrest for aggravated sexual assault of an elderly woman in Frisco, Texas. He has previous convictions for criminal trespass and buying marijuana.

Rogelio Martinez Elizondo, 37, from Mexico, was arrested in Denton Dec. 16. He has previous criminal convictions for sexual assault, injury to a child with intent for bodily injury and assault that caused bodily injury.

Mauricio Aristedes Rodriguez, 37, from El Salvador, was arrested in Mesquite Dec. 15. He has previous criminal convictions for indecency with a child/sexual contact, trespassing, and possession of marijuana.

Fernando Lopez Perez, 43, from El Salvador, was arrested in Garland Dec. 14. He has previous criminal convictions for kidnapping and drunken driving.

ICE established its National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP) in 2003 to eliminate the nation's backlog of immigration fugitives and ensure that deportation orders handed down by immigration judges are enforced. Today, ICE has 95 Fugitive Operations Teams deployed across the country.

In fiscal year 2008, ICE's NFOP has made 34,000 arrests nationwide, which included more than 25,000 fugitives. Additionally, in 2007 and for the first time in history, the nation's fugitive alien population declined and continues to do so, in large part because of the work of the NFOP. Estimates now place the number of immigration fugitives in the United States at about 570,000, a decrease of nearly 25,000 since October 2007.

ICE's Fugitive Operations Program is an integral part of the comprehensive multi-year plan launched by the Department of Homeland Security to secure America's borders and reduce illegal migration. That strategy seeks to gain operational control of both the northern and southern borders, while re-engineering the detention and removal system to ensure that illegal aliens are removed from the country quickly and efficiently.

The following seven law enforcement agencies assisted ICE with the arrests during this operation: Arlington Police Department, Dallas Police Department, Fort Worth Police Department, Frisco Police Department, Grand Prairie Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, and the U.S. Marshals Service.