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Enforcement and Removal
11/13/2019

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Law enforcement partnership removes convicted child molester from community

SEATTLE, Wash. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lodges detainers with state, local and federal agencies, on individuals who have been arrested for, or serving sentences on, criminal charges and who ICE has probable cause to believe are removable aliens. The detainer asks firstly, that the other law enforcement agency notify ICE in advance of release so that ICE can be present to take custody of that person upon release from that agency’s custody, in a safe and secure setting. When law enforcement agencies cooperate with immigration detainers instead of releasing serious criminal offenders onto the streets, both local and federal law enforcement can better protect the public while at the same time, carry out their missions more safely, effectively and efficiently. The recent arrest of convicted child molester and repeat immigration offender, Juan Ramon Avila-Leon, is a testament to why cooperative law enforcement is critical to public safety.

On July 18, 2018, Avila-Leon was encountered by ICE at the Pierce County Jail where he was being held on charges of three counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes and child molestation in the first degree. With no prior immigration history, only after an interview with ICE, could it be determined that he was a citizen of Mexico and ICE subsequently lodged a detainer with the jail.

On Aug. 29, 2018, Avila-Leon was convicted of child molestation-2 in the Pierce County Superior Court and sentenced to a total term of 20 months in prison. Avila-Leon was additionally convicted of four counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes and sentenced to 364 days in jail for each count. Avila-Leon was transferred to the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) in Shelton, Washington, to serve his sentence. Following his transfer to the Washington State DOC, ICE lodged another detainer with the DOC.

On July 23, 2019, Shelton Corrections Center notified ICE prior to releasing Avila-Leon, a process that is well within local and federal law. Though local officials claim a judicial warrant is necessary, Congress has established no process, requirement, or expectation directing ICE to seek a judicial warrant from already overburdened federal courts before taking custody of an alien on civil immigration violations.

On July 23, ICE took custody of Avila-Leon from the Shelton Corrections Center, placed him into immigration removal proceedings and detained him at the Northwest Ice Processing Center in Tacoma, Washington.

“This is a prime example of why state and local cooperation with federal immigration authorities is so important,” said Nathalie Asher, Seattle field office director, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). “I’ve said this over and over, partnerships between local law enforcement and ICE is an indispensable component of promoting public safety. When ICE is notified prior to dangerous individuals being released, we are able to remove them from the communities they’ve victimized, providing justice and closure for their victims.”

On Sept. 5, 2019, Avila-Leon was ordered removed by an immigration judge in Tacoma, Washington. On Sept. 10, 2019, ICE removed him to Mexico.

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection press release, on Oct. 19, 2019 Avila-Leon was arrested by Border Patrol agents approximately seven miles east of the Calexico West Downtown Port of Entry, trying to enter the U.S. illegally, without inspection.

“The fact that this individual was apprehended before he could illegally re-enter the country demonstrates the effectiveness of the country’s comprehensive efforts to combat illegal immigration,” said ICE Spokesperson Tanya Roman.

Despite the severe challenges that local policies have created for ICE and our law enforcement partners, we remain committed to our public safety mission and will continue to do our sworn duty to seek out dangerous criminal aliens and other immigration violators. ICE seeks straightforward cooperation with all local law enforcement and elected officials. ICE deportation officers carry out targeted enforcement actions every day in locations around the country as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to protect the nation, uphold public safety, and protect the integrity of our immigration laws and border controls.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 11/13/2019