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July 25, 2016Seattle, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

19 arrested in northern Washington ICE operation targeting convicted criminal aliens

SEATTLE – A Mexican national formerly convicted for drug trafficking and firearms possession and a Mexican female with multiple assault domestic violence convictions are among the 19 foreign nationals arrested in Skagit and Whatcom counties last week during a four-day operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) targeting at-large criminal aliens. 

All of the 18 men and one woman taken into custody by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers during last week’s operation which concluded late Thursday, had criminal histories. Several had prior felony convictions for serious or violent offenses involving drugs and weapons. The remaining arrestees had past convictions for significant or multiple misdemeanors. One of those taken into custody is a previously deported criminal alien who will now be presented for federal prosecution for re-entry after removal, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The remaining arrestees will be processed administratively for removal from the United States. Those who have outstanding orders of deportation, or who returned to the United States illegally after being deported, are subject to immediate removal from the country. The remaining individuals are in ICE custody awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge, or pending travel arrangements for removal in the near future. 

“This operation illustrates ICE’s ongoing dedication to targeting convicted criminals and other public safety threats for arrest and removal,” said Bryan Wilcox, deputy field office director for ERO Seattle. “By taking these individuals off our streets and ultimately removing them from the country, we’re making our communities safer for everyone.”

Among those arrested during last week’s operation were:

  • A 61-year-old Mexican male who has a  conviction for delivery and manufacture of a controlled substance and possession of a firearm;
  • A 45-year-old Mexican female with four separate convictions for assault domestic violence;
  • A 54-year-old Mexican male, whose rap sheet includes multiple drug convictions and multiple convictions for driving under the influence.

Of those taken into custody during the enforcement action 17 are originally from Mexico, one is from Guatemala, and one is from El Salvador.

In Skagit County, 10 individuals were taken into custody, including nine from Mt. Vernon and one from Burlington. In Whatcom County, nine individuals were taken into custody from cities including: Bellingham (3), Bow (1), Everson (2), Ferndale (2) and Lynden (1).

All of the targets in this operation met the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) two top immigration enforcement priorities as established in DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s 2014 memorandum. Priority 1 targets include threats to national security, criminal street gang members, convicted felons, and aggravated felons. Priority 2 targets include convictions for three or more misdemeanors or convictions for significant misdemeanors, including DUIs.

Secretary Johnson has directed ICE to prioritize the use of enforcement personnel, detention space, and removal assets to support the Department’s civil immigration enforcement priorities. ICE continues to work with local law enforcement partners to uphold public safety, while taking dangerous criminals out of our communities.