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Enforcement and Removal
03/30/2010

ICE removes 2 fugitive Mexican murder suspects

One target suspected in brutal vehicle dragging death

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Two Mexican nationals who fled to the United States to avoid prosecution for separate murders in their native country, were turned over to Mexican authorities Tuesday, following their capture here earlier this month by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Oswaldo Gallegos-Araiza, 34, and Secundino Felix-Melgar, 54, were turned over to representatives from the Mexican Attorney General's Office at the border crossing in San Ysidro, Calif. Tuesday this morning amid tight security.

Gallegos was arrested March 8 by members of ICE's Bakersfield Fugitive Operations Team, aided by officers from Kern County Probation Department. Gallegos is wanted for the May 1997 vehicle dragging death of Alonso Rosas-Beltran, in Sinaloa, Mexico.

Gallegos was allegedly drinking with the victim and two other men when they tried to force the victim to buy more alcohol. When Rosas-Beltran refused, the defendants allegedly beat him and tied his body to the rear bumper of a pick-up truck, dragging him along the edge of a canal to his death. The two other suspects were arrested and charged with homicide, but Gallegos fled to the United States. On March 16, Gallegos was ordered removed by an immigration judge.

Felix, who is also wanted in Sinaloa, was drinking with his brother-in-law in November 1996, when they got into an argument with a third man, Salome Bagazuma-Sanchez. Felix allegedly pointed a handgun at Bagazuma-Sanchez and shot him multiple times -- until his death. Felix, who also fled to the United States to avoid prosecution, was arrested by Fugitive Operations Team officers March 16 near his home in Avenal, Calif. He was ordered removed by an immigration judge on March 17.

"Both of these fugitives are suspected of cold blooded slayings and there's a real risk they could kill again," said Timothy Aitken, field office director for ICE's Office of Detention and Removal Operations in San Francisco. "ICE is using its unique immigration enforcement authorities to protect our communities from criminal aliens who pose a public safety threat, including suspects fleeing justice in their own countries. As these violent criminal fugitives are discovering, they can't outrun the law."

Since fiscal year 2007, ICE officers assigned to the agency's Detention and Removal Operations program nationwide have arrested more than 215 fleeing foreign criminal fugitives from countries around the world.