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July 9, 2014Seattle, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

ICE deports Samoan fugitive wanted on child rape charges

LOS ANGELES (July 8) - A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officer escorts fugitive child rape suspect Vaiaoga Leatuvao, 37, during a stopover at Los Angeles International Airport. Leatuvao was deported to Samoa Thursday to face criminal charges.

SEATTLE — A Samoan man who faces child rape charges in Samoa was deported Thursday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Vaiaoga Leatuvao, 37, was located in the Seattle area by special agents with ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) after the Samoan government notified U.S. authorities about the allegations against him. According to a July 2013 arrest warrant issued by the Supreme Court of Samoa, Leatuvao is charged with child rape. Samoan prosecutors allege Leatuvao raped four female students at a school for disabled children where he worked as a teacher.

Leatuvao came to the U.S. on a six-month visitor visa in September 2012 according to Department of Homeland Security databases. By the time the arrest warrant was issued by Samoan authorities, Leatuvao's U.S. visa had expired, enabling ICE to immediately arrest him last August on immigration violations and detain him at the Northwest Detention Center as a public safety threat pending the outcome of his deportation proceedings.

Leatuvao was escorted by ERO officers on a multi-leg commercial flight that departed Seattle Tuesday afternoon and landed in Samoa Thursday night local time. Leatuvao was transferred to the custody of Samoan law enforcement officials.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 720 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 HSI's Office of International Operations, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.