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February 29, 2016Alexandria, LA, United StatesEnforcement and Removal

ICE removes Salvadoran MS-13 gang leader wanted for murder, kidnapping

ALEXANDRIA, La. – A Salvadoran MS-13 gang leader illegally present in the United States, who is wanted in his home country on murder, kidnapping and other charges, was removed from the United States Friday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Jonathan Javier Mejia-Ventura, 18, was encountered Aug. 15, 2015, by U.S. Customs and Border Protection near Hebbronville, Texas, after he illegally crossed the border into the United States. On Dec. 18, 2015, an immigration judge ordered him removed from the United States.

Mejia is charged with seven counts of murder, six counts of conspiracy to commit murder, four counts of kidnapping, and two counts of attempted murder, aggravated robbery and extortion, according to an arrest warrant issued Oct. 27, 2015, by the Attorney General of El Salvador.

According to Salvadoran officials, Mejia is the leader of an MS-13 gang that operated in Santa Rosa Lima, La Union, El Salvador. Authorities charged him after discovering a secret cemetery where Mejia is alleged to have committed these crimes.

ERO New Orleans officers removed Mejia Friday via an ICE Air charter flight from Alexandria, La., to San Salvador, El Salvador, where he was then transferred into Salvadoran law enforcement custody.

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will continue to focus its removal resources on violent criminals and other high-priority aliens who pose the greatest threat to our communities," said ERO New Orleans Field Office Director David Rivera.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 720 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 the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.