NEW YORK – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) removed an Albanian national Tuesday who was convicted of murder in his home country.
ERO deportation officers escorted Lul Lucaj, 41, who was removed from the United States via a commercial flight. Lucaj was expected to be transferred into the custody Albanian authorities upon arrival in the capital of Tirana, however, during his layover in Rome, Italy, Lucaj was detained by Italian law enforcement authorities after it was determined he is also wanted on criminal charges in Italy.
“Lucaj came to the United States as a convicted murderer to avoid serving time for his crimes committed,” said Thomas Decker, field office director for ERO New York. “ICE will continue to target criminal aliens, especially those seeking refuge in our communities, and will ensure their removal to face justice in their home countries.”
According to the Interpol Red Notice, in August 2000 Lucaj was involved in an altercation with two brothers in Rome, Italy, that resulted in the death of one. Later, Lucaj, assisted by friends, killed the other brother. Lucaj was eventually apprehended in Albania. The governments of Italy and Albania agreed to Lucaj being tried in an Albanian court. In June 2009, Lucaj was convicted in absentia in the Court of Lezha, Albania, of one count of murder and sentenced to 14 ½ years in prison. In March 2015, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested Lucaj, who entered the country unlawfully at an unknown date and time, on immigration charges. Lucaj was granted bond by an immigration judge and in December 2015, Lucaj posted bond and was released from ICE custody. ICE's Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) appealed the decision of the immigration judge to grant bond with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). In December 2016, the BIA rescinded Lucaj’s bond after deeming him a danger to the public. In January 2017, deportation officers arrested Lucaj and returned him to ICE custody. In May 2017, Lucaj was ordered removed by an immigration judge, paving the way for his removal to Albania.
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 1,700 foreign fugitives from the United States who were sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ICE is focused on removing public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges.