TULSA, Okla. — As part of its public-safety mission, the local office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the arrest of 116 foreign nationals with criminal convictions during calendar year 2012.
The Tulsa-based ICE office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) was established in 2008 as part of an initiative to reduce the fugitive alien population in the United States, which later included previously removed aliens and removable aliens convicted of a crime. ERO’s Fugitive Operations Team located in Tulsa is one of 104 such teams that prioritizes its resources to focus on aliens who pose a serious threat to national security or public safety, including members of transnational street gangs, child sex offenders, and aliens with prior convictions for violent crimes.
"Our ERO officers positively impact public safety of communities in Oklahoma and nationwide when we remove criminal aliens from the streets, and ultimately from the country," said Simona L. Flores, field office director of ERO Dallas. "This is a vital mission that we take very seriously." Flores oversees the state of Oklahoma and 128 counties in north Texas.
Of the 116 criminal aliens arrested in 2012 by the Tulsa-based ERO officers, 34 have convictions for violent crimes, such as: lewd molestation, rape, child abuse by injury, assault with a dangerous weapon, and attempted kidnapping. Because of their serious criminal histories and prior immigration arrest records, seven of those arrested were federally prosecuted for illegally re-entering the United States after being formally deported, which is a felony. Those seven have since been convicted and were sentenced to an average two-year term of imprisonment.
Fifteen women and 101 men were arrested in the Tulsa area during 2012. They were arrested in the following Oklahoma cities: Tulsa (44), Muskogee (12), Miami (8), Enid (7), Bartlesville (4), Ponca City (4), Blackwell (3), Heavener (3), Tahlequah (3), Broken Arrow (2), Claremore (2), Jenks (2), Newkirk (2), Owasso (2) Stilwell (2), Afton (1), Bixby (1), Claremore (1), Commerce (1), Cushing (1), Fairview (1), Glenpool (1), Hulbert (1), McAlester (1), Muldrow (1), Okemah (1), Peggs (1), Pryor (1), Sallisaw (1), Shady Point (1) and Tonkawa (1).
The nationalities of those arrested include: Mexico (102), Guatemala (2), Iran (2), USSR (2), Czech Republic (1), El Salvador (1), Federated States of Micronesia (1), Honduras (1), Kenya (1), Pakistan (1) South Korea (1) and Uganda (1).
Three of the worst offenders arrested by the Tulsa ERO officers include the following:
- A 41-year-old man from Mexico was arrested in October in Muskogee, Okla. His criminal history includes convictions for assault & battery with a dangerous weapon, altering a firearm serial number, domestic assault & battery in presence of a minor, and unlawfully possessing a controlled drug with intent to distribute. He was deported Dec. 1.
- A 44-year-old man from Mexico was arrested in February 2012 at a residence in Tahlequah, Okla. He had been deported twice. In the late 1980s, he began building an extensive history of arrests and or convictions to include second-degree murder, manslaughter, forgery, battery, aggravated assault, possessing methamphetamine, domestic battery, possessing cocaine, possessing drug paraphernalia, obstructing government operations, and possessing a false alien registration form. After being arrested by ERO Tulsa officers, he was prosecuted for illegally re-entering the United States and sentenced to four years in federal prison. He will again be deported after he completes his prison term.
- A 58-year-old man from Mexico was arrested in January 2012 at his home in Muldrow, Okla. He had conviction for first-degree manslaughter for shooting and killing a man. He was deported in March 2012.
Aliens who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who illegally re-enter the United States after being deported, are subject to immediate deportation after they complete any prison sentences awarded after their criminal convictions. The other aliens arrested by Tulsa’s ERO officers in 2012 were entered into removal proceedings, or are currently pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future.
The enforcement operations conducted by this Tulsa team are just one facet of the Department of Homeland Security's broader strategy to heighten the federal government’s effectiveness at identifying and removing dangerous criminal aliens from the United States.