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April 10, 2009El Paso, TX, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

Former Mexican drug cartel officer deported

Criminal alien was wanted in Mexico for organized crime and drug charges

EL PASO, Texas - A former high-ranking member of the Gulf Cartel criminal drug organization, who was wanted in Mexico for organized crime and drug-related activity, was deported Friday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

José Manuel Garza Rendon, 56, was transferred to Mexican authorities in the morning April 10 at the middle of the Stanton Street Bridge at the El Paso Port of Entry. He had been transferred into ICE custody Tuesday after he was released from the Reeves County Detention Center in Pecos, Texas.

ICE agents identified Garza Rendon in January while he was serving a prison sentence at the West Texas federal prison. ICE agents informed him he would be deported when he completed his sentence. Garza Rendon, a Mexican national, was sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy with intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.

"Identifying criminal aliens before they are released from prison ensures individuals who pose a threat to public safety are removed from our country as expeditiously as possible," said Robert. Jolicoeur, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in El Paso.

"Through the CAP program, ICE will continue to nurture its robust partnership with local, national and international law enforcement agencies to ensure fugitives are removed to their countries of origin and justice is served."

Garza Rendon had no other active warrants in the United States. He had also been convicted in the United States in 1979 on drug conspiracy charges.

Mexico's attorney general informed ICE this week that Garza Rendon has been wanted in Mexico since 2002 for organized crime, attempted murder and possessing firearms used exclusively by the Mexican army.

Garza Rendon was one of 11 men named in the Mexican arrest warrant. Among the others is Osiel Cardenas Guillen, the boss of the Gulf Cartel who was extradited to the United States last year to face drug charges.

ICE agents identified Garza Rendon as a deportable alien through its Criminal Alien Program (CAP). Through close cooperation with local law enforcement, the CAP program identifies deportable aliens who are in detention facilities on criminal charges and ensures that they are released to ICE after their criminal proceedings are completed. Ultimately, ICE deports these aliens to their countries of origin.

During fiscal year 2008, ICE's CAP program identified 6,800 aliens in the El Paso area, which includes the 16 westernmost counties of Texas and the State of New Mexico. This is a 266 percent increase over the 2,550 aliens identified the previous year.