NEW ORLEANS – A Honduran criminal alien convicted of child molestation in Florida pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony charge of illegally re-entering the United States following a prior removal. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) arrested the man March 26, 2012, in Jefferson Parish as part of Operation Cross Check, which is a national ICE initiative targeting fugitive aliens.
"This case is a prime example of ICE identifying and detaining a violent criminal and egregious immigration law violator who poses the greatest threat to public safety," said Scott L. Sutterfield, acting field office director of ERO New Orleans. Sutterfield oversees ERO activities in Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.
According to court documents, William Jesus Brandel-Mena, 34, faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Brandel-Mena is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan in the Eastern District of Louisiana June 5. ERO New Orleans was assisted in its investigation by the Kenner Police Department.
Brandel-Mena was previously removed from Alexandria, La., to Honduras by ICE in April 2011. That removal followed Brandel-Mena's release from federal prison after serving nearly 6 years for an earlier guilty plea to illegally re-entering the country in Sept. 2005. In addition to immigration violations, Brandel-Mena was convicted of child molestation in Broward County, Fla. in 2003.
Overall, in FY 2012 ICE's Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations removed 409,849 individuals. Of these, approximately 55 percent, or 225,390 of the people removed, were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors – almost double the removal of criminals in FY 2008.
This includes 1,215 aliens convicted of homicide; 5,557 aliens convicted of sexual offenses; 40,448 aliens convicted for crimes involving drugs; and 36,166 aliens convicted for driving under the influence. ICE continues to make progress with regard to other categories prioritized for removal. Some 96 percent of all ICE's removals fell into a priority category – a record high.