WASHINGTON - In a chartered flight that originated in Miami Thursday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) returned 73 aliens, including 69 convicted criminals, to the Dominican Republic. Those removed included three convicted of murder, two convicted of sex offenses and one who was wanted for murder in the Dominican Republic.
ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Air Operations Unit coordinated the flight that returned the 73 Dominican males to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. These individuals came into ICE custody from locations throughout the United States. They were housed at various detention facilities across the country before being transported to the Oakdale Federal Detention Center in Louisiana or the Krome Service Processing Center in Miami before being removed.
The flight included individuals who had been convicted of homicide, attempted murder, felony drug trafficking and possession, sexual assault, aggravated assault, weapons and stolen property possession, fraud, grand theft, armed robbery, illegal re-entry after deportation, resisting arrest and burglary.
"ICE Enforcement and Removal Officers work hard every day to remove criminal aliens from the country and improve the safety and security of our communities," said ICE Director John Morton. "ICE Air Operations and charter flights like this one are critically important in fulfilling our mission to enforce the immigration law in a way that best promotes public safety."
Rafael Tejada-Morilla, 47, who was the subject of an Interpol Red Notice and an outstanding warrant of arrest for murder in the Dominican Republic, was removed to Santo Domingo via the ICE Air Operations flight. Upon arrival at Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo, Tejada-Morilla was turned over to Dominican law enforcement and immigration authorities.
Tejada-Morilla was initially encountered by ICE ERO New York Field Office's Criminal Alien Program officers in New York City on June 10, 2008 after he was identified at the Rikers Island Jail in New York where he was being detained on charges for drug possession. Thereafter, Tejada-Morilla was placed in immigration removal proceedings for being in violation of U.S. immigration law.
On Aug. 25, 2008, an immigration judge ordered Tejada-Morilla removed.
On Feb. 27, 2008, Tejada-Morilla was sentenced to seven years in prison for criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree in New York County Supreme Court. On March 18, 2011, Tejada-Morilla was transferred from New York State Department of Correctional Services to ICE custody. ICE officers and medical staff with the ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC) accompanied aliens on the flight.
ICE routinely uses special air charters to transport aliens who have final orders of removal from an immigration judge. Staffed by ICE ERO officers, these air charters enable the agency to repatriate large groups of deportees in an efficient, expeditious, and humane manner.
In fiscal year 2010, ICE removed 392,862 individuals from the United States, nearly half of whom had criminal convictions. For two years in a row, ICE has removed more aliens than were removed in fiscal year 2008. The fiscal year 2010 statistics represent increases of more than 23,000 removals overall and 81,000 criminal removals compared to fiscal year 2008 - a more than 70 percent increase in removal of criminal aliens from the previous administration.