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May 28, 2024Houston, TX, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

ERO Houston arrests, repatriates Salvadoran fugitive wanted for aggravated homicide, illicit groups

HOUSTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Houston field office, with assistance from ERO El Salvador and the Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force, repatriated an unlawfully present Salvadoran fugitive wanted for aggravated homicide and illicit groups (gang membership) May 24.

Ismael Adonay Aguilar Cornejo, a 31-year-old Salvadoran national, was flown from Alexandria, Louisiana, on a charter flight coordinated by ICE's Air Operations Unit to the Monsenor Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Salvador, El Salvador. Upon arrival, he was turned over to officials from El Salvador’s Civilian National Police.

“The United States will not be a safe haven for foreign fugitives, violent criminals and transnational gang members seeking to evade prosecution for crimes they are alleged to have committed in another country,” said ERO Houston Field Office Director Bret A. Bradford. “Our fugitive operations officers work tirelessly, alongside our domestic and international partners, to prevent these dangerous criminal noncitizens from reigning terror on our local communities by quickly apprehending and repatriating them to their country of origin to face justice.”

Aguilar illegally entered the United States on an unknown date and at an unknown location. On Sept. 11, 2012, he was apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol near Hidalgo. Border Patrol officials transferred Aguilar into ICE custody Sept. 13, 2012. On Nov. 30, 2012, Aguilar was released on an order of recognizance pending disposition of his immigration proceedings. Following his release, Aguilar failed to appear for his immigration proceedings and absconded from authorities. On Feb. 5, 2014, an immigration judge with the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review ordered Aguilar removed from the United States to El Salvador in absentia.

On Oct. 25, 2023, ERO Houston fugitive operations officers successfully located and arrested Aguilar in southeast Houston. Following his arrest, ERO Houston confirmed with the Salvadoran government that Aguilar was wanted for aggravated homicide and illicit groups. On Nov. 20, 2023, Aguilar filed a motion to reopen his immigration case. However, that motion was denied by an immigration judge on Dec. 5, 2023. Aguilar subsequently appealed the immigration judge’s decision with the Board of Immigration Appeals on Jan. 17, 2024. On April 10, the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed Aguilar’s appeal and he was removed by ICE officers to El Salvador May 24.

Members of the public who have information about foreign fugitives are urged to contact ICE by calling the ICE Tip Line at 866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also file a tip online by completing ICE’s online tip form.

For more news and information on how ERO Houston carries out its immigration enforcement mission in Southeast Texas follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @EROHouston.

The SAFE Program is a fugitive enforcement and information sharing partnership that was created in 2012 to better use subject information derived from local in-country investigative resources and leads to locate, apprehend, detain and remove individuals residing in the United States illegally who were subject to foreign arrest warrants. The SAFE Program operates under the respective host nation’s AAR, which constructs a SAFE task force composed of relevant foreign law enforcement agencies, immigration authorities, attorneys general, and national identification repositories — as well as other regional, national, state and local government agencies. The managing AAR ensures that each task force member complies with SAFE policies and standards consistent with the program’s standard operating procedures. Once established, the AAR-led SAFE task force generates new leads and vets existing SAFE fugitive referrals for ERO action.

As one of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) three operational directorates, Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) is the principal federal law enforcement authority in charge of domestic immigration enforcement. ERO’s mission is to protect the homeland through the arrest and removal of those who undermine the safety of U.S. communities and the integrity of U.S. immigration laws, and its primary areas of focus are interior enforcement operations, management of the agency’s detained and non-detained populations, and repatriation of noncitizens who have received final orders of removal. ERO’s workforce consists of more than 7,700 law enforcement and non-law enforcement support personnel across 25 domestic field offices and 208 locations nationwide, 30 overseas postings, and multiple temporary duty travel assignments along the border.