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Enforcement and Removal
07/09/2009

Former Bolivian Interior Minister who is wanted for murder and other crimes by Bolivian authorities deported by ICE

MIAMI - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and agents deported Luis Arce-Gomez, a Bolivian national, Wednesday, who is wanted in Bolivia for serious crimes he committed during the 1980s when he was a top military officer in his country.

Luis Arce-Gomez, 71, aka Colonel Arce and 'Minister of Cocaine,' was turned over to Bolivian authorities early this morning at the La Paz International Airport. ICE's Miami Field Office of Detention and Removal effectuated his removal pursuant to an immigration judge's removal order in August 2008.

"I hope last night's removal brings justice to the people of Bolivia who were victimized by the reprehensible acts that this man committed," said Michael Rozos, director of the ICE Office of Detention and Removal in Florida. "The U.S. government will work tirelessly to identify, arrest and ultimately remove from the United States those who have committed crimes against humanity abroad so that they may be brought to justice. Luis Arce-Gomez will now have to account for his actions before Bolivian authorities."

Arce-Gomez was charged in 1989 in the Southern District of Florida for drug trafficking. He was convicted on March 22, 1991, of two counts for conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The attorney general of the republic of Bolivia requested the return of Arce-Gomez upon his release from federal criminal custody on Nov. 23, 2007, for a judgment that acknowledges he has been convicted of crimes in Bolivia during the presidency of Luis García Meza Tejada including genocide, armed uprising, resolutions contrary to the constitution and the laws, attributions to the people's rights, crimes against the freedom of press, undue use of influence, murder and criminal conspiracy. Arce-Gomez did not serve a 30-year sentence imposed on him by the Bolivian court for his criminal convictions in Bolivia because he was incarcerated in the United States. Although there was an extradition request from the government of Bolivia, the United States used removal rather than extradition to return Arce-Gomez to the Bolivian authorities.

After he served a criminal sentence in U.S. federal prison, he was transferred into ICE custody and placed into removal proceedings. An immigration judge found him ineligible for immigration relief because he was convicted of a particularly serious crime and because he was found to be a persecutor and ordered him removed from the United States on Aug. 6, 2008. He appealed the judge's decision with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and on June 30, 2009, the BIA dismissed Gomez-Arce's appeal and affirmed the immigration judge's removal order.

Arce-Gomez is amongst many human rights violators and fugitives wanted for serious crimes abroad that ICE has returned to their native countries to face justice.