WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Two illegal aliens who resided in Palm Beach County pleaded guilty on Friday in two separate cases to illegally re-entering the United States after being deported following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) led investigation.
In one case, defendant Enrique Espino-Hernandez, 37, pled guilty to violating Title 8, United States Code, Section 1326, illegal re-entry of a previously removed and deported alien. Espino-Hernandez's plea was accepted by United States District Court Judge Kenneth A. Marra on November 14, 2008. Espino-Hernandez faces up to five years in prison at his sentencing scheduled for January 30, 2009 at 9:30 a.m.
According to documents filed with the court, on July 30, 2008, a U.S. immigration enforcement agent assigned to ICE's Criminal Alien Program (CAP)determined that Espino-Hernandez, who was incarcerated in the Palm Beach County Jail, had been previously removed and deported from the United States. A review of Espino-Hernandez's immigration file revealed that Espino-Hernandez had been removed and deported from the United States on or about May 17, 2008. Prior to being deported, Espino-Hernandez had been convicted in Palm Beach County for possession of cocaine, a third degree felony.
"Entering the United States after being deported is a serious criminal offense," said Anthony V. Mangione, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Miami. "ICE will continue to work with our state and local partners to identify and prosecute individuals who have been previously deported and have illegally re-entered the United States."
"Our office will follow through on the enforcement of orders that are issued against individuals who have violated the immigration laws of the United States." said U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta for the Southern District of Florida. "We support the continued efforts of ICE to partner with state and local police agencies to locate these offenders."
In the second case, defendant Fausto Jaimes-Santibañez, 46, was charged in a three-count indictment with (1) possessing a firearm while an alien unlawfully in the United States, in violation of 18 United States Code, Section 922(g)(5), which carries a maximum of ten years imprisonment; (2) reentry after deportation, in violation of 8 United States Code, Section 1326(a), which carries a maximum of two years imprisonment; and (3) making a false claim to U.S. citizenship, in violation of 18 United States Code, Section 911, which carries a maximum of three years imprisonment. On November 14, 2008, Jaimes-Santibanez entered guilty pleas to all three offenses, pursuant to a plea agreement, before United States District Court Judge Kenneth Ryskamp. Sentencing is set for 1:30 p.m. on January 23, 2009 before Judge Ryskamp in West Palm Beach.
According to the factual proffer filed with the court and statements made during the plea, on July 27, 2008, Jaimes-Santibañez was arrested in connection to a shooting that occurred in Lake Worth on that day. After receiving a report of the shooting, Palm Beach sheriff's deputies located Jaimes-Santibañez at one of his residences. During the arrest, deputies found a loaded semi-automatic 0.22-caliber Ruger handgun wrapped up in his shirt which was rolled up in a ball next to him. The Ruger had one round in the chamber and eight in the magazine. A search of his pockets revealed three additional rounds of 0.22-caliber ammunition.
Jaimes-Santibañez was arrested by local authorities and was charged with aggravated battery with a firearm and carrying a concealed firearm. When federal agents learned of the arrest, they contacted ICE and placed an immigration detainer on Jaimes-Santibanez. After verifying immigration records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security, Jaimes-Santibanez was subsequently indicted.
ICE's CAP focuses on targeting criminal aliens in federal, state, and local custody. The ICE Office of Detention and Removal (DRO) oversees the program and DRO officers work with federal, state, and local jails to identify foreign born inmates who pose the greatest threat to the community if released. CAP also works closely with the United States Attorney's Office to aggressively prosecute criminal aliens who have reentered the United States after having been previously removed thereby creating a deterrent to illegal reentry by previously removed criminal aliens.
The heightened emphasis on felony immigration cases reflects a commitment by ICE and the Department of Justice to send a strong message of deterrence to illegal aliens with lengthy criminal and immigration records. The maximum penalty for re-entry after deportation is 20 years in prison.
The heightened focus on re-entry prosecutions is part of the Department of Homeland Security's multi-year plan to secure America's borders and reduce illegal migration. That strategy seeks to gain operational control of both the northern and southern borders, while re-engineering the detention and removal system to ensure that illegal aliens are removed from the country quickly and efficiently.
U.S. Attorney Acosta commended the investigative efforts of ICE and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
These cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys William T. Zloch and Marie Ann Villafana.