LOS ANGELES — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested 57 foreign nationals with prior convictions for sex offenses during a three-day operation targeting criminal alien sex offenders in the Los Angeles area.
During the enforcement effort, which concluded late Wednesday, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers assigned to the agency's Fugitive Operations Teams sought to locate and take custody of deportable alien sex offenders in six Southland counties - Los Angeles (31), San Bernardino (11), Riverside (8), Orange (4), Ventura (2) and Santa Barbara (1). The majority of those arrested were Mexican citizens (38), but the group also included nationals of El Salvador (8), the Philippines (4), Honduras (2), Guatemala (2), Vietnam (1), Samoa (1) and Panama (1).
"One of ICE's top immigration enforcement priorities is arresting and removing individuals who pose a threat to public safety and, by any measure, convicted sex offenders fit that description," said David W. Jennings, field office director for ERO Los Angeles. "Everyone should rest easier knowing these individuals are off our streets. We will use every tool and resource at our disposal to help ensure they don't endanger our communities again."
Among those arrested during the three-day enforcement action was Victor Manuel Rodriguez, a previously deported convicted rapist from Mexico. ERO officers took Rodriguez into custody Monday in Hesperia. Convicted of rape in California in 1999, the 38-year-old was removed to Mexico following his prison term, but returned to the U.S. illegally. Rodriquez is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for felony re-entry after deportation, a violation that carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. He made his initial appearance in federal court Wednesday.
Also taken into custody during the operation was a Samoan man, now residing in Long Beach, who has a prior conviction for committing lewd acts upon a child. Arrested Tuesday, the 49-year-old is being held by ICE without bond pending the outcome of removal proceedings. Likewise, ERO officers located and detained a 24-year-old Filipino man in Oxnard Tuesday who was convicted last year of sending obscene material to a minor. He is being held in ICE custody without bond pending removal proceedings.
ERO has nine Fugitive Operations Teams deployed in the Los Angeles area – four in Los Angeles County, two in the Inland Empire, two based in Ventura County and one in Orange County. The teams are responsible for locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives. The teams give top priority to cases involving individuals who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.