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April 16, 2015El Paso, TX, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

ICE El Paso removes attempted murder suspect, gang member to Mexico

EL PASO, Texas — A fugitive wanted for attempted murder in the Mexican state of Coahuila was deported Wednesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers in El Paso, Texas.

Jose Alfredo Leyja-Celestino, 33, was handed over to Mexican law enforcement officials at El Paso's Stanton Street Bridge Port of Entry. Leyja-Celestino is wanted for the 2014 attempted murder of Marcos Feliciano Ramirez Chon, who was beaten, stabbed and shot. Leyja-Celestino is one of three men Mexican authorities identified as suspects in the case.

Leyja-Celestino, a Latin King gang member, entered the United States legally May 11, 2001, with a visitor visa that allowed him to remain in the country for six months. He overstayed his visa, and in May 2003, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) agents encountered him at the Kerr County Juvenile Center in Kerrville, Texas. He was processed and returned to Mexico.

He entered the country illegally several times after that and Dec. 21, 2006, was convicted for theft in Belton, Texas. He also was convicted several times for illegal reentry after deportation, and served time in federal prison. He has been removed from the United States at least six times.

The Attorney General of Mexico requested ERO's assistance in turning Leyja-Celestino over to Mexican law enforcement officials when he was removed April 15.

"This removal is another example of the robust partnership between ICE and the Government of Mexico as it relates to removing dangerous criminals from our streets and our country," said Adrian P. Macias, field office director for ERO El Paso. "ICE has agents assigned full time to identify foreign-born criminal aliens. Those who flee to the United States to elude justice in their countries are identified and turned over to the proper authorities."

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.

In fiscal year 2014, ICE conducted 315,943 removals nationwide. More than 85 percent of ICE's total removals had been previously convicted of a crime.

In addition to convicted criminals, the agency's enforcement priorities include those apprehended while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States, illegal re-entrants — individuals who returned to the United States after being previously removed by ICE — and immigration fugitives. In fiscal year 2014, 98 percent of ICE removals met these priorities.

Updated: 03/11/2016