HOUSTON — A Salvadoran man wanted for homicide and extortion in his home country, who is also a member of the violent 18th Street Gang, was deported Wednesday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
This removal is the latest result of stepped up collaborative efforts to locate Salvadoran criminal fugitives in the United States and return them to El Salvador to face justice.
Armando Palacios-Avalos, 34, aka Castro-Urbina and Edwin Eduardo, was flown to El Salvador Jan. 14 onboard a charter flight coordinated by ICE’s Air Operations (IAO) Unit. Upon arrival, Palacios-Avalos was turned over to officials from El Salvador’s Policia Nacional Civil (PNC).
Palacios-Avalos was encountered and arrested Aug. 23, 2014 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol agents in Hildalgo, Texas. Two days later he was convicted and sentenced to 15 days for illegally entering the United States, and then transferred to ICE custody. On Oct. 16, law enforcement indices revealed that Salvadoran officials issued an arrest warrant for Palacios-Avalos for aggravated homicide and extortion. Palacios-Avalos had been previously deported in July 2013. Anyone who re-enters the United States after having been previously removed commits a felony punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison, if convicted.
Palacios-Avalos’s deportation is another example of expanded bi-national cooperation to identify, arrest and repatriate Salvadoran criminal suspects who have fled to the United States to avoid prosecution. As part of this effort, ICE officers are working closely with PNC, the Salvadoran National Interpol Office and Salvadoran immigration.
Palacios-Avalos is the latest Salvadoran removal as part of ERO’s Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement (SAFE) Initiative. The SAFE Initiative is geared toward identifying foreign fugitives who are wanted abroad and removable under U.S. immigration law. In just three years, through the SAFE Initiative, ERO has removed more than 480 criminal fugitives to El Salvador. Those removed as part of the SAFE Initiative have been deemed ineligible to remain in the United States and were all wanted by PNC. SAFE aligns with ERO’s public safety priorities and eliminates the need for formal extradition requests.
In fiscal year 2014, ERO removed 315,943 individuals from the United States. 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.
ICE Air History
ICE routinely uses special air charters to transport aliens who have final orders of removal from an immigration judge. Staffed by ICE ERO Air Operations officers, these air charters enable the agency to repatriate large groups of deportees in an efficient, expeditious and humane manner.
In fiscal year 2014, ICE returned 163 criminals with active PNC arrest warrants to El Salvador via ICE removal flights. Many of those arrested were accused of homicide-related charges or other violent crimes.
Since 2006, ICE Air Operations has supported ERO by providing mass air transportation and removal coordination services to ERO field offices nationwide. Staffed by ERO officers, these air charters enable the agency to repatriate large groups of deportees in an efficient, expeditious and humane manner.
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 ICE's Office of International Operations, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.