MIAMI — A 30-year-old Mexican national was indicted Thursday on charges of reentering the U.S. after having been lawfully removed following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.
According to the indictment and a previous complaint affidavit filed with the court, Celestino Ramirez-Hernandez was found in the U.S. on Nov. 19, 2009, after having been removed from the United States on March 30, 2002.
Statements made in court during a detention hearing held January 14, 2010, indicated that Ramirez-Hernandez had been convicted in 2001 of statutory rape of a child under the age of 16.
He was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment, but was allowed to serve the sentence on probation.
The defendant was physically removed from the U.S. on March 30, 2002, and was barred permanently from returning to the U.S.
Thereafter, Ramirez-Hernandez reentered the U.S. on an unknown date. Using the alias of Leonel Lopez, he was subsequently convicted in 2006 of grand theft and possession of a stolen/forged driver's license.
While under court supervision, it was discovered that Leonel Lopez was actually Ramirez-Hernandez, a convicted sex offender. Statements made in court indicated that he failed to register as a sex offender and was convicted of this offense.
While the Ramirez-Hernandez was approaching completion of his four-year sentence in a Miami-Dade detention facility for failure to register as a sex offender, an ICE agent and deportation officer assigned to ICE's Criminal Alien Program (CAP) interviewed Ramirez-Hernandez.
Through ICE's Secure Communities partnership, the agents and officers ran his fingerprints through DHS and FBI databases and confirmed the defendant's sex conviction and prior removal.
Subsequently, ICE officers and agents placed an immigration detainer on the defendant to ensure he would not be released from custody.
On Jan. 11, 2010, ICE officers and agents arrested him on a criminal complaint prior to the filing of the indictment.
If convicted, Ramirez-Hernandez faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Patrick.