SAN DIEGO – A Mexican national captured in Mecca, California, who is charged in his native country with murder, was turned over to Mexican law enforcement personnel Tuesday at a San Diego-area border crossing by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Maximiliano Moreno Contreras, 37, was transferred to the custody of representatives from the Mexican Attorney General’s Office in Tijuana. An arrest warrant issued by authorities in Mexicali’s judicial district accuses Moreno of the April 16, 2001, stabbing death of a local man. The murder occurred in Colonia Pueblo Nuevo in Mexicali, Baja California. Mexican authorities allege Moreno was riding with his father in a vehicle when he climbed out of the car and fatally stabbed the man over a debt he claimed the victim owned him.
Earlier this month, representatives of the Tijuana Police Department contacted the HSI Assistant Attaché office in Tijuana with information about Moreno’s possible whereabouts in the Riverside County community of Mecca. ERO San Diego located the suspect and took him into custody Monday afternoon. Following his capture, Moreno told ERO officers he most recently entered the U.S. illegally in February. According to DHS records, Moreno has been previously deported on three occasions, in 2005, 2010 and 2013.
“Criminals who seek to escape the consequences for their egregious crimes by fleeing to the U.S. will find no haven in our communities” said Gregory J. Archambeault, field office director for ERO San Diego. “As this case makes clear, ERO works closely with its international partners to promote public safety. We are committed to holding criminals accountable for their actions, regardless where they commit their crimes.”
Tuesday’s removal demonstrates the expanded bilateral cooperation to identify, arrest and repatriate Mexican fugitives who have fled to the United States to avoid prosecution. ICE is working closely with the Mexican government as part of this effort. Many of the arrests involve violent crimes.
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 721 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE’s Office of International Operations, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.