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May 3, 2019Sioux Falls, SD, United StatesEnforcement and Removal, Transnational Gangs

ICE arrests Salvadoran murder suspect, gang associate in South Dakota

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A Salvadoran fugitive and 18th Street Gang associate, who is wanted for aggravated homicide in his home country, was arrested in Sioux Falls Wednesday by deportation officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Moises De Jesus Ruiz-Mejia, 25, was arrested Wednesday evening outside his residence after ICE was recently alerted the Salvadoran government had issued an international arrest warrant naming him as one of 25 individuals wanted for aggravated homicide or attempted homicide of numerous victims, some of whom have yet to be identified.

“This arrest reflects ICE’s ongoing commitment to keeping international fugitives out of the United States,” said ICE Field Office Director Peter Berg, ICE ERO in St. Paul, Minnesota. “Foreign fugitives attempting to avoid prosecution of violent crimes committed in their home country will not find sanctuary in this country. ICE continues to work with our international counterparts to aggressively pursue criminals who threaten the safety of our local-area communities.”

The arrest warrant was issued by the Salvadoran government on Oct. 15, 2018. Most of the individuals sought are members of the 18th Street Gang (Surenos 18); others such as Ruiz-Mejia are listed in Spanish as “paros” or individuals who do favors for the gang. Between October 2018 and March 2019, the Salvadoran arrest warrant was sent to Interpol, which then relayed it to U.S. law enforcement officials.

Ruiz-Mejia illegally entered the United States on Oct. 14, 2018, a day before the Salvadoran government issued the arrest warrant naming him as a suspect. After his initial encounter with U.S. border officials, he was released from custody and ordered to report to the ICE office in Sioux Falls on a periodic basis beginning in November 2018, pending his immigration court proceedings.  

Ruiz-Mejia’s May 1 arrest occurred without incident. He remains in ICE custody pending disposition of his immigration proceedings.

ICE removed or returned 258,085 aliens in fiscal year 2018. ERO arrested 158,581 aliens, 90% of whom had criminal convictions, pending criminal charges, or previously issued final orders. The overall arrest figure represents an 11% increase over fiscal year 2017.

ICE is focused on removing public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed.