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April 12, 2022Washington, DC, United StatesHuman Rights Violators

ICE arrests 23 known or suspected human rights violators across the US during Operation Safe Nation

WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 23 fugitives sought for their roles in known or suspected human rights violations during a nationwide operation which concluded on April 1. ICE’s National Fugitive Operations Program, in coordination with the ICE Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC) and the ICE Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, worked with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington field offices to arrest these known or suspected human rights violators.

All foreign nationals arrested during this operation have outstanding final orders of removal and are subject to repatriation to their countries of origin. Thirteen individuals are also in the U.S. with convictions for crimes including, but not limited to, homicide, aggravated assault with a weapon, burglary, disorderly conduct, damage property, larceny, indecent exposure, resisting officer, and DUI offenses.

“ICE will not allow the United States to be an escape for those entering the U.S. to evade prosecution and punishment for the crimes they have committed against others,” said ICE Acting Director Tae D. Johnson. “These arrests highlight the tremendous work of the ICE workforce to further human rights by holding violators accountable.”

Those arrested across the country included:

  • Sixteen individuals from Central and South America implicated in a variety of human rights violations against civilians and political opponents, including extrajudicial killings, referrals of victims to intelligence units involved in persecutory abuses, guarding prisoners subjected to mistreatment or torture, prisoner mutilation, and arbitrary detentions.
  • Two known or suspected human rights violators from China, complicit in forced abortions and sterilizations by government entities.
  • Two individuals from South and Eastern Europe implicated in human rights violations, including membership in military units known for massacres and the persecution of civilians.
  • Three additional known or suspected human rights violators who participated in or supported political violence, including mistreating political prisoners, inciting violence against minority populations, and assisting officials in a regime known for extensive human rights abuses against its political opponents.

From 2014 to 2020, ICE successfully conducted six operations targeting known and suspected human rights violators under Operation No Safe Haven. This year’s Operation Safe Nation advances this continued commitment to identifying, investigating, prosecuting, and removing known or suspected human rights violators who seek safe haven in the United States.

HSI's HRVWCC, established in 2009, investigates human rights violators who try to evade justice by seeking shelter in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, severe violations of religious freedom, female genital mutilation/cutting and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. These individuals may use fraudulent identities or falsified documents to enter the U.S. in attempt to blend in with communities.

The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.

Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to contact ICE by calling the toll-free ICE tip line at 1-866-347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also email or complete ICE’s online tip form.

Since 2003, ICE has arrested more than 469 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders against and physically removed 1,085 known or suspected human rights violators from the United States. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 181 such individuals from the United States.

Currently, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations has more than 180 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,700 leads and removals cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 78,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 350 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the United States.

ICE focuses its civil immigration enforcement priorities on the apprehension and removal of noncitizens who pose a threat to our national security, public safety and border security.