DALLAS – Following a five-day Texas-wide U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation, 50 convicted alien sex offenders and other criminal aliens were arrested by officers with ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) also assisted with this operation. Twenty four of those arrests occurred in the north Texas area.
The goal of this operation, dubbed "SOAR" (Sex Offender Alien Removal), was to identify, locate and arrest aliens who have convictions for sex crimes, especially sex crimes against children. This is the first statewide operation that specifically targeted this criminal element. This operation was coordinated with ERO's 16 Fugitive Operations Teams throughout Texas, and Texas DPS. Four Fugitive Operations Teams operated from Dallas and north Texas.
ERO's Operation SOAR began Saturday and ended Sept. 12.
"This operation was specifically designed to target and arrest criminal aliens who have been convicted of sex crimes," said Simona L. Flores, field office director for ERO Dallas. "By removing these criminal aliens from our streets and our country, we immediately improve public safety in these communities." Flores oversees 128 counties in north Texas and the state of Oklahoma.
"DPS is proud to have worked together with ICE in this successful operation to target and apprehend ruthless criminals who prey on Texans," said Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw. "These types of coordinated efforts between law enforcement agencies at all levels are critical to protecting our communities and keeping criminals off our streets."
Of the 50 men arrested throughout Texas, 47 had felony convictions, and 40 had convictions for sex crimes. One criminal alien residing in Houston had been convicted of murder.
Of the 24 men arrested in north Texas, 15 had prior convictions for sex crimes such as: indecency with a child, sexual conduct; unlawful sexual intercourse with a child, aggravated sexual assault of a child; sex offense against a child, fondling; and sexual battery of a minor. Other previous criminal convictions of those arrested in north Texas also include the following: possessing marijuana, evading arrest, drunken driving, alien smuggling, and aggravated robbery.
Seven of those arrested in north Texas had been previously removed from the country and illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.
All those arrested during operation SOAR in north Texas include men from the following countries: Mexico (19), Sudan (2), Laos (1), Nicaragua (1), and Vietnam (1). Those arrests occurred in the following communities: Dallas (11), Cleburne (3), Amarillo (2), Caddo Mills (1), Fort Worth (1), Garland (1), Lubbock (1), Mesquite (1), Perryton (1), Plano (1) and Waxahachie (1).
Following are criminal summaries of three men arrested in north Texas during this operation:
- A 44-year-old man from Mexico was arrested by ERO officers Sept. 8 in Dallas. He had been convicted in 1989 in California of unlawful intercourse with a minor and sentenced to 365 days confinement and 60 months' probation. After completing his prison sentence, he was deported and illegally re-entered the United States. He was again deported in November 1999, and is again being processed for deportation.
- A 46-year-old man from Mexico was arrested by ERO officers Sept. 8 in Dallas, Texas. He had served six years in prison following his 1996 conviction in Houston, Texas, for indecency with a child – sexual contact. He was deported in 1999 and again in 2003. He faces charges of failing to register as a sex offender, and will be deported again after he completes any criminal proceedings against him.
- A 46-year-old man from Mexico was arrested by ERO officers Sept. 9 in Caddo Mills, Texas. He was convicted in March 2006 in Dallas County, Texas, for aggravated sexual assault of a child, and was sentenced to 10 years confinement, probated for 10 years. As an alien convicted of an aggravated felony, he is eligible for deportation.
These arrests were coordinated with ICE's National Fugitive Operations Program, which is responsible for investigating, locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives – aliens who have ignored final orders of deportation handed down by federal immigration courts. ICE's Fugitive Operations Teams give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.
ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security. ICE also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system including immigration fugitives or criminal aliens who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.