SAN DIEGO — Two Mexican nationals who fled to the United States to avoid prosecution for separate murders in western Mexico were turned over to Mexican authorities Tuesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Jose Ramirez Chavez, 43, and Pablo Bernal Moreno, 42, were remanded to the custody of representatives from the Mexican Attorney General's Office by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers at the San Ysidro border crossing Tuesday morning under tight security.
The men were turned over to the Mexican authorities following their release from Calipatria State Prison in the Imperial Valley after serving lengthy prison terms for violent crimes they committed in northern California.
Ramirez is wanted by Mexican authorities for the brutal slaying of a Mexican man in Turicato, Michoacán, in April 2001. According to the Mexican arrest warrant issued in August 2002, Ramirez shot and killed J. Isabel Ortega Duarte with an AK-47 assault rifle, firing multiple rounds. Authorities say the murder was in retaliation for the death of his brother, which he blamed on Ortega's cousin.
Bernal is wanted by Mexican authorities for murder and attempted extortion in Uruapan, Michoacán. The body of the murder victim, Jose Garcia, was found inside a well in the nearby mountains where it was covered with rocks. According to Mexican authorities, Bernal kidnapped Garcia and attempted to collect ransom from his family in August 1999. Mexican authorities issued the warrant for Bernal's arrest in March 2000.
"Violent criminals who seek to escape responsibility for their actions by fleeing to the U.S. will find no sanctuary in our communities" said Gregory J. Archambeault, field office director for ERO San Diego. "As these cases make clear, ERO works closely with its international partners to promote public safety and hold criminals accountable – no matter where they commit their crimes."
Both fugitives have significant criminal histories in the United States as well. According to public documents, Ramirez was convicted of first and second degree robbery in Stanislaus County in January 2006. Six months later, he was convicted of firearms violations in Tulare County. Ramirez served nearly eight years in state custody for both crimes.
Meanwhile, Bernal was convicted in Sutter County in July 2006 with attempted murder and second degree robbery and sentenced to incarceration for eight years in state prison. He served nearly seven years for those crimes.
The return of the two murder suspects is a result of the expanded binational cooperation to identify arrest and repatriate Mexican fugitives who have fled to the United States to avoid prosecution. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Mexico works closely with the Mexican government as part of this effort. Many of the captured fugitives are charged with homicide or other violent crimes in Mexico.
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 645 foreign fugitives from the United States who were wanted in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with the HSI Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.