BOISE, Idaho - A Mexican national was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison yesterday for illegally re-entering the United States after being deported, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE.)
Juan Ayala-Gomez, 44, was living in Caldwell, Idaho, when he was encountered by an ICE's fugitive operations team based in Boise, Idaho, in January 2008. Ayala-Gomez was a convicted felon. He had previously been deported to Mexico and had returned to the United States illegally.
When ICE officers made contact with Ayala-Gomez, they discovered he was unlawfully in possession of an SKS rifle and several rounds of ammunition. He pleaded guilty in May 2008 to immigration and firearms violations.
"Prison terms like this one are a reminder that there are consequences for violating immigration law," said Steven Branch, field office director for ICE's detention and removal operations that oversees Idaho. "Federal immigration prosecutions are an important component of ICE's interior immigration enforcement strategy and we will continue to work closely with the U.S. Department of Justice to bring these cases forward."
ICE's Fugitive Operations Program was established in 2003 to eliminate the nation's backlog of immigration fugitives. Today, ICE has 95 teams in place across the country.
As a result of the efforts of the Fugitive Operations Teams, the nation's fugitive alien population continues to decline. Estimates now place the number of immigration fugitives in the United States at slightly under 560,000, a decrease of more than 34,000 since October 2007.