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Enforcement and Removal

Previously deported Mexican national sentenced to almost 5 years for illegal reentry

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A criminal alien, who had been previously deported to Mexico, was sentenced in federal court on Thursday to almost five years in prison for illegally reentering the United States. This sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Imelda Melissa Cantu-Barraza, 35, was sentenced April 15 in the Western District of Missouri to 57 months in federal prison for illegally reentering the United States after being previously deported as an aggravated felon. She will be deported again to Mexico after she completes her prison sentence. Reentering the United States after being formally deported is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

On Dec. 16, Cantu-Barraza pleaded guilty to illegally reentering the country in 2008 without obtaining the required permission from the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Cantu-Barraza has three prior burglary convictions in Texas and a conviction for illegally entering the United States in the Southern District of Texas. She was deported to Mexico in September 2007.

According to the sentencing memorandum, Cantu-Barraza was arrested Sept. 17 by a Kansas City police officer for driving under the influence. While driving eastbound on Truman Road in the westbound lane of traffic, Cantu-Barraza almost struck the police officer's patrol car head-on. The police officer had to take evasive action to avoid a collision with her car.

"Illegal aliens who knowingly break the law by re-entering the United States will face criminal prosecution for such blatant disregard of our nation's immigration laws," said Ricardo Wong, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal in Chicago. "ICE is sending a strong message of deterrence to those who are contemplating this crime."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gene Porter, Western District of Missouri, prosecuted this case.