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March 4, 2024Phoenix, AZ, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

ERO Phoenix removes Mexican national with extensive criminal history for the 7th time

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Deportation officers with Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Phoenix removed Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, 49, a Mexican national who was removed on six previous occasions, via commercial air to Mexico March 1.

“This Mexican national has a lengthy criminal history aside from being removed from the U.S. six pervious times,” said ERO Phoenix Field Office Director John E. Cantu. “ERO will not allow criminals and prior deported people to overrun our communities. Noncitizens who commit crimes and are not legally present in the U.S. will be removed in accordance with our immigration laws to their home country.”

Garcia-Zarate illegally entered and reentered the United States at unknown locations without admission or parole by an immigration officer. Garcia-Zarate has been removed from the United States six times, in June 1994, April 1997, January 1998, February 1998, March 2006 and July 2009. He has an extensive criminal record that includes multiple convictions related to drug possession, violating terms of his probation and drug trafficking, which resulted in approximately five years in prison.

On Feb. 16, 2024, Garcia-Zarate was released from the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix and transferred to ERO Phoenix’s custody pursuant to an immigration detainer.

Garcia-Zarate has a criminal history in the United States spanning more than three decades, dating back to 1991. On March 27, 2015, ERO San Francisco lodged an immigration detainer with the San Francisco Police Department for Garcia-Zarate following his arrest on an outstanding warrant. After the San Francisco district attorney dropped the charges, the police did not honor the detainer and released Garcia-Zarate from custody on April 15, 2015. Previously, Garcia had served time in federal prison in Victorville, California, for illegal reentry after deportation. Officials handed him over to the San Francisco Police Department on March 26, 2015. They released him April 15, 2015, then arrested him again for the suspected murder of a woman in San Francisco on July 2, 2015.

On Dec. 5, 2017, a federal grand jury empaneled by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California indicted him for being a noncitizen and felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

On Jan. 8, 2018, Garcia-Zarate was transferred to federal custody for his federal case. On June 10, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California convicted him on the federal charges and sentenced him to time served. He remained in federal custody to serve the remainder of his sentence stemming from prior federal probation violations.

The March 1 removal marks Garica-Zarate’s seventh deportation.

Noncitizens placed into removal proceedings receive their legal due process from federal immigration judges with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). EOIR is an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice and is separate from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Immigration judges in these courts make decisions based on the merits of each individual case. ICE officers carry out the removal decisions made by federal immigration judges.

In fiscal year 2023, ERO made 170,590 administrative arrests, a 19.5% increase over the previous year. ERO arrested 73,822 noncitizens with a criminal history; those arrested had an average of four charges and convictions per individual, including more than 33,209 charges or convictions for assault, 7,520 for weapons offenses, 1,713 for homicide-related offenses, and 1,615 for kidnapping. Removals also included 3,406 known or suspected gang members, 139 known or suspected terrorists, seven human rights violators, and 108 foreign fugitives wanted by their governments for crimes including homicide, rape, terrorism and kidnapping. Also in fiscal year 2023, ERO conducted 142,580 removals to more than 170 countries worldwide.

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 the 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.

Members of the public can report crime and suspicious activity by calling 866-347-2423 or completing the online tip form.