WASHINGTON — A citizen and national of the Dominican Republic wanted by the Dominican National Police for raping a minor child was removed from the United States by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers and turned over to the country's law enforcement authorities.
Jose Francisco Paula-Rivera, 35, was removed Tuesday from Alexandria International Airport in Alexandria, La., via an ERO Air Operations charter flight. Prior to his removal he was being held at the Hampton Roads Jail in Portsmouth, Va. He arrived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where upon arrival he was taken into custody by the Dominican National Police pursuant to an arrest warrant issued on Jan. 6. Paula-Rivera will now stand trial for this alleged crime.
"This individual mistakenly believed he could use the United States as a safe haven, to avoid facing serious criminal charges in his home country," said ERO Washington Field Office Director Enrique M. Lucero. "One of ICE's top enforcement priorities is locating dangerous foreign fugitives seeking refuge in the United States and turning them over to our foreign law enforcement partners to face justice for the alleged crimes they have committed."
Paula-Rivera was last encountered by ICE on Sept. 21, 2009, in Washington Heights, N.Y., following his arrest and conviction on federal charges in the Southern District of New York for illegal re-entry into the United States subsequent to a conviction for aggravated felony, for which he was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.
On April 16, 2004, Paula-Rivera was convicted in the New York County Supreme Court for criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. He was ordered removed from the United States on Sept. 7, 2004, by an immigration judge in York, Pa., and removed by ICE to the Dominican Republic. In or about December 2008, Paula-Rivera illegally re-entered the United States at an unknown location.
Paula-Rivera's removal was coordinated with the ICE Attaché in Santo Domingo.
ICE routinely uses special air charters to transport aliens who have final orders of removal from an immigration judge. 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 about 335 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 Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.
The ICE flight Paula-Rivera was on included individuals who had been convicted of homicide, rape, aggravated assault, battery, smuggling, robbery, illegal re-entry after deportation, weapons and stolen property possession, larceny, drug sale, and possession and fraud.