PALMDALE, Calif. – A Salvadoran national in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who was wanted in his native country for solicitation of murder, passed away Monday morning at Palmdale Regional Medical Center after being diagnosed with cancer.
Raul Ernesto Morales-Ramos, 44, was admitted to the hospital Friday after experiencing some unusual bleeding. Subsequent tests indicated Morales appeared to have intestinal cancer requiring inpatient care and possible surgery. Morales, who had been under a physician’s treatment since his admission to the hospital, passed away Monday shortly after 4 a.m. His remains have been transferred to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Officer, which will determine whether an autopsy is necessary.
ICE contacted Morales’ local family members following his hospitalization and several relatives visited him at the medical center. Consistent with the agency’s protocols, ICE also notified the Salvadoran consulate and the appropriate state health and local law enforcement agencies.
Morales had been in ICE custody since Feb. 25, 2010, when he was arrested by an ICE Fugitive Operations Team based on a warrant issued by authorities in El Salvador charging him with conspiracy to commit aggravated homicide. Investigators in El Salvador allege Morales hired two former Los Angeles-area gang members to kill one of his step children in El Salvador in a dispute over an insurance settlement. The case has received extensive media coverage in El Salvador.
Originally ordered deported by an immigration judge in August 2010, Morales filed multiple legal appeals seeking to block his removal. At the time of his death, Morales had a petition for review pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Morales is the second detainee to pass away in ICE custody in fiscal year 2015.