NEW ORLEANS — Two Salvadoran nationals wanted for murder in their home country were removed from the United States Friday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Hector Ivan Lopez-Portillo, 34, an MS-13 gang member, was convicted in August 2010 in Galax County, Va., for failure to pay child support. He was transferred to ICE custody in February 2011 following his release from local custody. At that point, ICE determined Lopez-Portillo had an outstanding murder warrant in El Salvador from March 2004. He claims to have entered the United States near Brownsville, Texas, at an unknown time.
German Samuel Franco-Zarceno, 32, a Hediondo gang member, was arrested by Tampa police officers for driving without a license in October 2012. He was transferred to ICE custody once ERO officers determined he was the subject of an Interpol Red Notice out of El Salvador. He was wanted in El Salvador on murder charges for allegedly killing a man by dropping a piece of cement on the victim's head. He claims to have entered the United States near Laredo, Texas, in August 2010.
"ICE will continue to focus its enforcement operations on identifying, arresting and removing dangerous criminals who pose the greatest risk to our communities," said Trey Lund, field office director for ERO New Orleans.
Lund oversees a five-state area of operations to include Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Lopez-Portillo and Franco-Zarceno were removed via an ICE Air Operations charter flight from Alexandria to San Salvador, El Salvador. From there, ICE officers transferred both men into Salvadoran law enforcement custody.
Since 2006 ICE Air Operations, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., 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.
In fiscal year 2012, ERO removed 409,849 individuals. Of those, approximately 55 percent, or 225,390 people, were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors. This figure includes 1,215 aliens convicted of homicide, 5,557 aliens convicted of sexual offenses, 40,448 aliens convicted for crimes involving drugs and 36,166 aliens convicted for driving under the influence. Approximately 96 percent of ICE's removals in fiscal year 2012 fell into one of the agency's priority categories – a record high.