SAN ANTONIO — A woman gang member from El Salvador, who is wanted in her home country for extortion, was deported Tuesday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
ICE routinely works collaboratively with El Salvador authorities to locate Salvadoran criminal fugitives in the United States and return them to face justice.
Merlin Marilu Umanzor-Melendez, 27, departed San Antonio Tuesday onboard an ICE Air Operations Unit charter flight. Upon arrival in El Salvador, ERO officers turned her over to officials from the El Salvadoran Civilian National Police (PNC).
"ICE will not allow aliens who commit crimes abroad to use the United States as a safe haven from justice in their home countries," said Enrique M. Lucero, field office director of ERO San Antonio.
Umanzor-Melendez was arrested Jan. 23 by federal immigration authorities near Sarita, Texas. She was ultimately transferred to ICE custody and detained at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas. On Feb. 28, 2014, an immigration judge issued her final orders of removal.
According to the Interpol Red Notice, Umanzor-Melendez faces charges for kidnapping a woman in 2008 and for eliciting a membership to the 18th Street Gang in October 2009.
ICE routinely uses special air charters to transport aliens who have final orders of removal from an immigration judge. Staffed by ICE ERO Air Operations officers, these air charters enable the agency to repatriate large groups of deportees in an efficient, expeditious and humane manner.
This most recent 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 PNC, the Salvadoran National Interpol Office and Salvadoran immigration as part of this effort.
In fiscal year 2013, ICE returned 160 criminals with active PNC arrest warrants to El Salvador via ICE removal flights. Many of those arrested were accused of homicide-related charges or other violent crimes.
Since 2006, ICE Air Operations has supported ERO by providing mass air transportation and removal coordination services to ERO field offices nationwide. Staffed by ERO officers, these air charters enable the agency to repatriate large groups of deportees in an efficient, expeditious and humane manner.