MIAMI — Three Colombian nationals were deported Monday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). They were convicted of conspiracy to fraudulently attempt to export airplane engines used in F-5 fighter jets from the United States to Iran after an investigation by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
HSI Miami special agents arrested Diego Echeverri-Gutierrez, 44, Carlos Alfredo Pantoja-Coral, 58, and Pantoja-Coral's wife, Amparo Echeverri-Valdes, 56, all of Bogota, Colombia, March 2011. They were later convicted in 2011 of conspiracy to fraudulently attempt to export goods from the United States to Iran in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and sentenced to two years in prison. All three were determined to be removable from the United States, as aliens who evaded laws prohibiting the export of goods, technology or sensitive information from the United States.
"Individuals like Echeverri-Gutierrez, Pantoja Coral and Echeverri-Valdes who violate our nation's laws will be held accountable," said Alysa Erichs, special agent in charge of HSI Miami. "Engaging in a conspiracy to export sensitive technologies and other commodities to prohibited countries like Iran is a serious crime that threatens our national security and we are committed to investigating and pursuing removal from the United States on such foreign nationals after their criminal cases are completed."
All three were escorted by ERO officers via an ICE Air Operations charter flight and turned over to Colombian law enforcement authorities upon arrival at the Bogota International Airport.
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 566 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.
This removal was coordinated with HSI Colombia, the Consulate General of Colombia and ICE's National Security Law Section. HSI Miami conducted the investigation.