WASHINGTON – A Salvadoran man was returned to his native country earlier today by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) to face charges for sexually assaulting five minor children, who were under his care at a children's home he managed in El Salvador.
Jose Mauricio Huezo-Ortega, 37, was arrested Sept. 14, 2012, at his residence in Falls Church, Va., by officers of ERO Washington's fugitive operations team. In June, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) El Salvador, assisting the El Salvadoran Civil National Police (PNC), developed intelligence that Huezo-Ortega was residing in the United States. Huezo-Ortega fled to the United States in 2009 to avoid charges stemming from the sexual assault. Following his arrest, he was placed in immigration removal proceedings and subsequently on Dec. 28, 2012, a U.S. immigration judge ordered Huezo removed from the United States.
"Heinous criminals like this who attempt to evade justice by fleeing to the United States will find no sanctuary in our communities," said M. Yvonne Evans, field office director for ERO Washington. "As this case makes clear, ICE is working closely with our foreign law enforcement counterparts to promote public safety, and identify and arrest foreign fugitives, and return them to their native countries where they stand accused."
According to the arrest warrant issued by PNC, the victims, who were all residents of the children's home, reported to local authorities that Huezo-Ortega would grope them at night while they were sleeping and further sexually assault them. An Interpol Red Notice was issued for Huezo-Ortega Sept. 26, 2012.
Huezo-Ortega arrived at the International Airport of El Salvador, Comalapa and was turned over to El Salvadoran law enforcement authorities by ERO officers.
The investigation was conducted by PNC, working in collaboration with HSI El Salvador, HSI Dallas and the ERO Washington's fugitive operations team. ICE's Office of the Chief Counsel Arlington handled the administrative removal proceedings leading to the immigration judge's decision. The removal was supported by HSI El Salvador.
ICE routinely uses special air charters to transport aliens who have final orders of removal from an immigration judge. Staffed by ERO Air Operations (IAO) officers, these air charters enable the agency to repatriate large groups of deportees in an efficient, expeditious and humane manner.
Officials point to Ortega-Huezo's deportation as yet another benefit of the expanded cooperation between ICE and authorities in El Salvador to identify, arrest and repatriate Salvadoran criminal suspects who flee to the U.S. to avoid justice. ICE officers are working closely with PNC, the Salvadoran National Interpol Office and Salvadoran Immigration as part of this effort. As a result, in fiscal year 2012, PNC was able to execute 134 criminal arrest warrants immediately upon fugitives' return to El Salvador aboard IAO removal flights. More than a fourth of those arrests involved homicide-related charges.
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 566 foreign fugitives from the U.S. 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 U.S. and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.