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March 15, 2023Houston, TX, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

ERO Houston removes Colombian national with ties to terrorist organization

HOUSTON — Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Houston, with assistance from ERO Colombia and the Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force in Colombia, removed Jorge Luis Molina-Hernandez, a 35-year-old Colombian national, from the U.S. on March 13. Molina-Hernandez has ties to the “Bloque Sur Andaqui” and the former Autodefensas Unidos de Colombia (AUC) paramilitary organization.

A charter flight coordinated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Air Operations Unit flew Molina-Hernandez from Alexandria, Louisiana, to the El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá, Colombia. Upon arrival, he was transferred into the custody of Colombian law enforcement authorities.

Molina-Hernandez illegally entered the U.S. on Nov. 26, 2022, near Brownsville. The U.S. Border Patrol immediately apprehended him. On Nov. 30, 2022, he was transferred into ERO Houston custody and placed into immigration proceedings. After running background checks, ERO Houston discovered that Molina-Hernandez has documented ties to the AUC and the “Bloque Sur Andaqui.”

On Feb. 8, 2023, an immigration judge with the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review ordered Molina-Hernandez removed from the United States. ICE officers removed him to Colombia on March 13.

“The Autodefensas Unidos de Colombia paramilitary organization was a designated foreign terrorist organization that committed unspeakable atrocities to anyone who stood in the way of their drug trafficking or terrorist activities,” said ERO Houston acting Field Office Director Gabriel Martinez. “Working closely with our federal law enforcement partners, we were able to confirm this individual’s ties to the AUC and remove him from the country before he had a chance to become a potential threat to national security or public safety.”

The AUC was a Colombian paramilitary and drug trafficking organization that operated from 1997 to 2006. In 2001, the U.S. Department of State designated the AUC a foreign terrorist organization and specially designated global terrorism organization. To support its political and terrorist objectives, the AUC imposed “taxes” on cocaine trafficked through areas they controlled and engaged in violent attacks, including murder and kidnappings of civilians and political opponents.

Members of the public who have information about foreign fugitives should 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 Twitter @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 U.S. 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 ICE’s three operational directorates, 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 (TDY) assignments along the border.