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December 15, 2020Tacoma, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

ICE removes child molester convicted in Washington state to Mexico

TACOMA – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers removed a Mexican national convicted in Washington state of three counts of child molestation, Dec. 8.

Horacio Ornelas-Lomeli, 38, was removed from the U.S. via an ICE Air Operations charter flight and transferred to the custody of Mexican authorities.

“ICE is committed to keeping children in our community safe from dangerous pedophiles like Ornelas-Lomeli,” said ICE’s ERO Seattle Field Office Director Nathalie Asher. “Criminal aliens, particularly those who harm children, should not be released back onto our streets when ICE has the ability to safely detain them throughout their removal proceedings.”

On Aug. 14, 2017, the Tacoma Police Department arrested Horacio Ornelas-Lomeli for child molestation and detained him at the Pierce County Jail. On Aug. 15, 2017, officers from ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) lodged an immigration detainer with the jail. On May 8, 2018, Ornelas-Lomeli was transferred to the Washington Corrections Center and ICE ERO officers again lodged a detainer.

On March 30, 2018, Ornelas-Lomeli was convicted of three counts of child molestation in the second degree, sentenced to 57 months confinement and later remanded to the custody of the Airway Heights Corrections Center to serve his prison term.

On Nov. 9, 2020, Ornelas-Lomeli was released from the Airway Height Corrections Center and transferred to ICE custody.

ICE lodges immigration detainers on individuals like Ornelas-Lomeli who have been arrested on local criminal charges and who are suspected of being removable, so that ICE can take custody of that person when he or she is released from local custody.

“As law enforcement agencies, we owe it to the young victims in these types of cases to do all we can to keep these offenders as far away from them as possible,” continued Asher. “Immigration detainers are simply another tool that helps us do that.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is charged with enforcing federal immigration laws enacted by Congress. Officers with ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) are sworn law enforcement officers who carry out the arrest, detention and removal of aliens found to be in the United States unlawfully. ICE allocates the agency’s finite immigration enforcement resources by prioritizing public and national security threats, immigration fugitives and illegal reentrants. However, all of those in violation of immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.

Aliens processed for removal may receive their legal due process from federal immigration judges in the immigration courts, which are administered by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). EOIR is an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice and is separate from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and ICE. Immigration judges in these courts make decisions based on the merits of each individual case. ICE officers carry out the removal decisions made by the federal immigration judges.