SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — A Salvadoran national arrested last year by authorities in Contra Costa County for traffic violations was handed over to authorities in El Salvador Wednesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after it was determined the man was wanted for murder in his native country.
Handy Brayan Guzman-Romero, 26, was repatriated on board a charter flight coordinated by ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Air Operations (IAO) Unit. Upon arrival, ERO officers turned the suspect over to officials from the El Salvadoran Civilian National Police (PNC).
Guzman is charged with first degree murder in a criminal warrant issued by Salvadoran authorities in November 2009. According to the Interpol red notice issued in the case, on Nov. 6, 2008, Guzman fatally shot another man in the forehead and fled the scene. The murder occurred in the community of San Jorge in northeastern El Salvador.
Guzman was originally taken into custody by Contra Costa County sheriff's deputies in May 2012 for hit and run and driving without a license. Following his arrest, a routine Secure Communities fingerprint screening revealed Guzman had been previously deported in 2007 and ICE lodged an immigration detainer against him. Guzman was remanded to ICE custody when local authorities declined to press charges. He was then transferred to an ICE detention facility in the Los Angeles area while his immigration case was litigated.
Guzman argued in immigration court that he should be allowed to remain in the U.S., but in September the Board of Immigration Appeals declined to block his deportation, paving the way for this week's removal.
"Had it not been for Secure Communities, this foreign murder suspect might have been released to the street and evaded justice," said Timothy Aitken, field office director for ERO San Francisco. "While this individual did not have any criminal convictions here in the United States, if the murder charge is substantiated, clearly he posed a potential public safety threat. ICE will continue to work with its foreign law enforcement counterparts to hold criminals accountable, no matter where they commit their crimes."
Guzman's repatriation is another example of expanded bi-national cooperation to identify, arrest and repatriate Salvadoran criminal suspects who have fled to the United States to avoid prosecution. ICE officers work closely with the Policía Nacional Civil (PNC), the Salvadoran National Interpol Office and Salvadoran immigration as part of this effort.
In fiscal year 2013, the PNC executed 160 criminal arrest warrants involving fugitives who were returned to El Salvador aboard ICE removal flights. Many of those arrested were accused of homicide-related charges or other violent crimes.