ICE deports accused Mexican mass murderer captured in northern California
SAN DIEGO – A Mexican national captured last year in Santa Cruz County, who is wanted in his native country on multiple counts of murder and attempted murder, was turned over Wednesday to Mexican law enforcement at a San Diego-area border crossing by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Heriberto Gomez Galicia, aka Ramiro Gomez Lopez, 62, was transferred to the custody of representatives from the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (PGR). A warrant issued by authorities in the state of Oaxaca in July1992 accuses Gomez of seven murders, two attempted murders and causing malicious bodily injury to two additional victims. Six of those targeted in the assault were children, including an 8-year-old who died. One of the wounded youths was only 3. According to Mexican authorities, the victims of the Oct. 9, 1991, massacre were members of a local family with whom Gomez and his two brothers had feuded. The warrant alleges that Gomez, along with his two brothers, stalked the family’s patriarch as he tended his livestock. When the father fled, the suspects allegedly sought out other members of the family and carried out the attack.
In the fall of 2014, representatives with the U.S. Marshals Service Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force received a lead regarding Gomez’s possible whereabouts. The information indicated the fugitive murder suspect might have used his dead brother’s name to register a vehicle in California. Subsequently, the Task Force obtained a copy of the outstanding arrest warrant from the PGR and a photo lineup featuring the murder suspect. In Nov. 16, 2014, Gomez was located and taken into custody by ERO and the U.S. Marshals Service at his residence in Watsonville. In a sworn statement to ERO officers, Gomez admitted using four aliases, allowing him to illegally obtain work authorization and identification documents, including a California driver’s license and a California Benefits Card (Medi-Cal).
Following his arrest, ICE detained Gomez as a flight and public safety risk while his deportation case was pending before the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). On April 16, an immigration judge with EOIR ordered Gomez removed, paving the way for this week’s repatriation.
“The U.S. Marshals Service Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force tracks down and apprehends violent criminals daily,” said the U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of California Don O’Keefe. “This case demonstrates the effectiveness of the partnership between our federal, state, and local partners by denying a dangerous and violent fugitive sanctuary on the streets of our cities. The Marshals Service in Northern California will continue to pursue fugitives abroad, as well as foreign fugitives on our soil, so they can be held accountable for their crimes and the victims are able to receive the justice they deserve.”
Since October 2009, ERO has removed more than 900 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 Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the U.S.