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January 27, 2017New York, NY, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

ICE arrests convicted Mexican national released from local custody after detainer was ignored

NEW YORK — Officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)  arrested a Mexican national Wednesday after he was released from local custody when a detainer lodged with New York authorities was not honored. The man, who had previously been removed, has a prior conviction for forcible theft armed with a deadly weapon.

Luis Alejandro Villegas, 31, was released from local custody Dec. 31, 2016, after being detained for driving while intoxicated. Villegas has a previous criminal conviction for robbery in the first degree, forcible theft with a deadly weapon for which he served five years’ imprisonment.  Following his prison term, Villegas was removed from the United States in 2007 pursuant to a final order of removal.

ICE filed the detainer Dec. 31, 2016, with the New York Police Department in Manhattan, where he was detained while the DWI charge was pending. However, he was released from New York custody after authorities declined to honor the detainer.  A criminal warrant was subsequently issued by the Southern District of New York (SDNY) for the illegal reentry of a removed alien. ICE officers arrested Villegas Jan. 25 at the intersection of 111th Street and Park Avenue in New York.  He was processed and later transported to federal court for an appearance before a judge.  He is now in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service with charges pending.

"Villegas is a criminal alien who was released back into our New York communities, posing an increased and unnecessary risk to those who live in this great city,” said Thomas R. Decker, field office director for ERO New York. “This level of risk can be mitigated in many instances and ICE welcomes changes to the current policy which is creating a potentially unsafe environment for the city’s residents.  ICE is committed to strengthening its relationship with local law enforcement in the interest of public safety and national security while preserving the critical community-police bond.”

In fiscal year (FY) 2016, ICE removed or returned 240,255 individuals. Of this total, 174,923 were apprehended while, or shortly after, attempting to illegally enter the United States. The remaining 65,332 were apprehended in the interior of the United States, and the vast majority were convicted criminals who fell within ICE's civil immigration enforcement priorities.  99.3 percent of ICE's FY 2016 removals and returns fell into one or more of ICE's civil immigration enforcement priorities.

Updated: 11/19/2020