SAN DIEGO — A fugitive female member of La Familia Michoacana cartel, for whom Mexico offered a $5 million peso reward, is in custody in her native country following her capture in Los Angeles last week and subsequent deportation.
Anel Violeta Noriega Rios, 27, was arrested without incident June 27 at her El Monte residence by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers and other members of the U.S. Marshals Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force. Noriega Rios was taken into custody on administrative immigration violations. Two days later she was transported to the border crossing in San Ysidro, Calif., and turned over to Mexican authorities under tight security.
Noriega Rios is charged in a 64-page criminal warrant issued in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas in January 2010 with ongoing involvement in organized crime and drug trafficking. Mexican authorities allege Noriega Rios is one of La Familia's main U.S.-based operatives, helping oversee the organization's methamphetamine distribution activities in California and Washington state. ICE officials say the lead that resulted in the female fugitive's capture was provided by a caller to ICE's 24-hour tip line – 866-DHS-2-ICE.
Rooted in the Mexican state of Michoacan, La Familia is known for being extremely violent. According to U.S. authorities, the cartel is engaged in narcotics trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and other criminal activities. In addition to distributing cocaine and marijuana, the organization is also believed to be heavily involved in producing methamphetamine for export to the United States.
"Last week's removal should be a reminder to fugitives in Mexico and around the world that we won't allow our borders to be barriers to bringing dangerous criminals to justice," said David Marin, acting field office director of ERO Los Angeles. "ICE will continue to work closely with its law enforcement counterparts in Mexico to assure the safety of law abiding citizens in both nations."
Mexican officials say Noriega Rios' capture is the direct result of the excellent cooperation between U.S. and Mexican authorities and the two countries' exchange of strategic information. Mexican officials note the case also demonstrates the ongoing commitment between ICE and the Office of the General Attorney of Mexico (PGR) to address matters of mutual concern.
Noriega Rios was deported to Mexico after ERO reinstated her prior order of removal from 2004. Department of Homeland Security databases indicate Noriega Rios was arrested and repatriated to Mexico five times by U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Border Patrol agents between 2004 and 2005. She had no criminal convictions in the United States.
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed about 455 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE's Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.