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September 4, 2015Los Angeles, CA, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

ICE removes MS-13 gang member sought for assassination of Salvadoran prosecutor

LOS ANGELES – A Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang member captured recently in the Los Angeles area who is wanted in his native El Salvador for his role in the assassination of a government prosecutor, was removed to his home country Friday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Javier Arnoldo Ceron Gomez, 21, was repatriated on board a charter flight coordinated by ERO’s Air Operations Unit. Upon arrival at the airport in San Salvador, El Salvador, ERO officers turned the suspect over to top-level Salvadoran judicial and immigration officials.

According to Salvadoran authorities, Ceron was one of several MS-13 gang members involved in the March slaying of Andres Ernesto Oliva Tejada, a prosecuting attorney in the homicide unit of the Salvadoran Attorney General’s Office. Oliva was shot multiple times by assailants on motorcycles while he parked his car.

On June 4, ERO officers received information from Interpol that Ceron was wanted in El Salvador for aggravated homicide and might be living with relatives in the Los Angeles area. Armed with that intelligence, ERO officers, working closely with the U.S. Marshals Pacific South West Regional Fugitive Task Force, immediately began surveillance of possible suspect locations. A week later, on June 11, the officers tracked the accused assassin to a Santa Ana car dealership where he worked washing cars and took him into custody without incident.

“This was an unconscionable, cowardly act and we’ve worked tirelessly with our law enforcement partners here and in El Salvador to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice,” said ICE Director Sarah Saldaña. “Violent criminals who believe they can evade justice by fleeing to the U.S. should be on notice – they will find no refuge here.”

“This is a direct and clear message to criminals of all kinds, no matter where they try to hide, we will always capture them and bring them to justice,” said El Salvadoran Attorney General Luis Antonio Martinez. “We will apply the full weight of the law, because we owe it to all of the Salvadoran workers and victims.”

Because Ceron entered the U.S. illegally in April, ICE placed him in removal proceedings. Last month, an immigration judge ordered him deported, paving the way for this week’s removal. A second suspect in the assassination, Miguel Orellana-Hernandez, was deported to El Salvador in June following his arrest by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers near Laredo, Texas. Two additional Salvadoran nationals who are also facing charges in the case were arrested recently in the U.S. and are awaiting repatriation to El Salvador. 

Ceron is the latest removal to El Salvador as part of ERO’s Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement (SAFE) Initiative. The SAFE Initiative is geared toward the identification of foreign fugitives who are wanted abroad and removable under US immigration law.

In just three years, through the SAFE Initiative, ERO has removed more than 590 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 the Policia Nacional Civil (PNC), El Salvador’s national police.

SAFE aligns with ERO’s public safety priorities and eliminates the need for formal extradition requests.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 1,150 foreign fugitives from the United States who were sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Office of International Operations, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the United States. Members of the public who have information about foreign fugitives are urged to contact ICE by calling the toll-free ICE tip line at 1 (866) 347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also file a tip online by completing ICE’s online tip form.