HOUSTON — A Salvadoran man wanted for homicide in his home country 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.
Alexander Pineda-Ponce, 33, was flown to El Salvador Aug. 14 onboard a charter flight coordinated by ICE’s Air Operations (IAO) Unit. Upon arrival, Pineda was turned over to officials from the El Salvador’s Policia Nacional Civil (PNC).
Pineda was arrested by Deer Park PD after a traffic violation May 6 and released into ICE custody. That same day Pineda was screened through ICE’s Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which revealed that an Interpol warrant had been issued for his arrest by Salvadoran officials for homicide and murder. Pineda was previously deported twice from the U.S. in December 2001 and again in June 2011.
Pineda 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.