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Enforcement and Removal
09/09/2016

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ICE Houston officers deport Salvadoran gang member wanted for aggravated homicide

HOUSTON — A fugitive and member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang from El Salvador, who is wanted for aggravated homicide, was deported Friday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Houston.

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.

Henry Omar Vigil-Castellon, 27, was flown to El Salvador Sept. 9 onboard a charter flight coordinated by ICE’s Air Operations (IAO) Unit. Upon arrival, the suspect was turned over to officials from El Salvador’s Civilian National Police (PNC).

“Removing known gang members and foreign fugitives from the United States is an ICE priority,” said Patrick D. Contreras, field office director of ERO Houston. “The cooperation between the United States and Salvadoran governments resulted in this foreign fugitive being safely returned to his home country where he will stand trial for his alleged crimes.”

Vigil-Castellon was arrested by Montgomery (Texas) Police Department following an April 25 traffic stop, and was turned over to ICE. An Interpol warrant revealed he was wanted by Salvadoran officials for aggravated homicide. On Aug. 9, an immigration judge ordered Vigil-Castellon to be removed from the United States to El Salvador.

This removal was part of ERO’s Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement (SAFE) Initiative. The SAFE Initiative is geared toward the identification of 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 600 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 the Policia Nacional Civil (PNC).

SAFE aligns with ERO’s public safety priorities and eliminates the need for formal extradition requests.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 1,150 foreign fugitives from the United States who were sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Office of International Operations, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the United States. Members of the public who have information about foreign fugitives are urged to contact ICE by calling the toll-free ICE tip line at 1 (866) 347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also file a tip online by completing ICE’s online tip form.

In fiscal 2015, ICE removed or returned 235,413 individuals. Of this total, 165,935 were apprehended while, or shortly after, attempting to illegally enter the United States. The remaining 69,478 were apprehended in the interior of the United States, and the vast majority of these were convicted criminals who fell within ICE's civil immigration enforcement priorities.

Ninety-eight percent of ICE's fiscal 2015 removals and returns fell into one or more of ICE's civil immigration enforcement priorities, with 86 percent falling in Priority 1 and eight percent in Priority 2. In addition, ICE's interior enforcement activities led to an increase in the percentage of interior removals that were convicted criminals, growing from 82 percent in fiscal 2013 to 91 percent in 2015.

ICE’s civil enforcement efforts are based on priorities set by the Secretary of Homeland Security in November 2014.

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.

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.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/12/2016