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Enforcement and Removal
11/26/2008

ICE arrests 71 Florida residents in targeted immigration fugitive operation

MIAMI - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced today that a five-day targeted fugitive enforcement operation last week in Miami, Broward, Palm Beach, Orlando, and Tampa areas netted 71 fugitive aliens and immigration violators.

During the operation, which concluded Friday, ICE officers arrested 60 immigration fugitives who ignored lawful orders of removal and went into hiding and 11 other immigration violators. Of the 71 arrested, 18 had criminal histories that spanned from trafficking cocaine, prostitution, weapons offenses, marijuana possession, DUI, resisting arrest, theft, burglary, narcotics possession and distribution and battery. The breakdown of the arrests by area is as follows: 33 in Miami-Dade; 17 in Broward; five in Palm Beach; seven in Orlando and nine in Tampa.

"ICE will continue to arrest and deport aliens who have ignored an immigration judge's order to leave the country," said Michael Rozos, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) in Florida. "While we are a welcoming country, we expect those wanting to immigrate here to do so in a safe, legal and orderly manner. We will conduct these targeted fugitive operations to ensure that removal orders are carried out and locate these immigration violators who potentially pose a threat to public safety. Those that want to avoid arrest should comply with the law."

Forty-nine individuals arrested remain in ICE custody and 21 were processed for removal and released under supervision as part of the Alternatives to Detention Program (ATD). In these cases, ICE officers exercised prosecutorial discretion by placing aliens with final orders of removal, who were verified to be sole caregivers or as having medical concerns, on orders of supervision.

Two examples of criminal aliens arrested during this targeted enforcement action are:

  • Adly Pierre, 27, a citizen of Haiti, who was residing in Pompano Beach. He was arrested in November 2008 in Broward County, Florida. Pierre entered the United States as a lawful permanent resident in April1996 through Miami. In April 2004, he was convicted in Fort Lauderdale of firing a weapon/missile into a dwelling and sentenced to two years in prison. Then twice in June 2004, Pierre was convicted of marijuana possession. In March 2007, Pierre arrived at the Miami International Airport as a returning lawful permanent resident. He was placed into removal proceedings due to his criminal convictions and failed to appear before an immigration judge, resulting in a removal order issued in absentia in April, 2008. Pierre is being held in ICE custody pending his removal from the United States.
  • Birmel Mejia, 32, a Honduran national residing in Ft. Lauderdale, was arrested on Nov. 19 in Broward County. Mejia entered the United States at an unknown date and location without being admitted or paroled. Mejia applied for Temporary Protective Status (TPS) in June1999, which was later denied. Mejia was ordered removed from the United States in absentia by an immigration judge in November 2005. Mejia re-applied for TPS in 2007 and again was denied. Mejia’s criminal record shows that he was arrested in Ft. Lauderdale for aggravated assault with a weapon in 2001 and again in 2003 for fraud impersonation in Osceola County, Florida. Mejia is being held in ICE custody pending his removal from the United States.

Those arrested during the operation come from countries around the globe including Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Peru, Cuba, Honduras, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Jamaica, El Salvador, Bangladesh, Uruguay, and Belgium.

ICE established the first Fugitive Operations Teams (FOT) in 2003 to dramatically expand the agency's efforts to locate, arrest and remove fugitives from the United States. ICE's fugitive operations officers give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and community safety, including members of transnational street gangs, child sex offenders and aliens with prior convictions for violent crimes. They use intelligence-based information and leads to locate and arrest aliens who have been ordered to leave the country by an immigration judge, but have failed to comply.

The ATD Program was originally created to ensure appearance at immigration hearings by aliens who were determined not to pose a threat to national security or community safety and who did not pose an unacceptable flight risk. This program has provided effective community based supervision to eligible aliens. The departure of those placed on the orders of supervision will be verified by deportation officers.

An ICE "fugitive" is defined as an alien who has failed to leave the United States based upon a final order of removal, deportation or exclusion, or who has failed to report to ICE after receiving notice to do so. Those fugitives have already been ordered deported and are subject to immediate removal from the United States. The individuals who have illegally re-entered the U.S. after deportation are also subject to immediate removal from the U.S. The other immigration violators arrested during this operation who have not already been ordered removed, have been charged with immigration violations and placed into removal proceedings. They await hearings before an immigration judge.