ICE arrests 16 illegal immigrants with criminal records in Laredo area

Photo courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Law enforcement officials inspect an arrested individual’s tattoos for signs of gang affiliation. About 1,130 individuals were arrested across the U.S. during Project Shadowfire, a five-week operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations that ended March 18. The operation targeted transnational criminal gangs and others associated with transnational criminal activity, like drug trafficking, human smuggling and sex trafficking, murder and racketeering.

Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2016 1:11 pm | Updated: 2:41 pm, Tue Mar 29, 2016.
Special to the Times

Sixteen illegal immigrants with criminal records were arrested in the Laredo area during a five-day operation conducted by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Enforcement and Removal Operations.

"This enforcement operation, which concluded Friday, is the latest effort by ICE to prioritize the arrest and removal of convicted criminal aliens living illegally in the United States," a news release states.

All 16 are from Mexico and have been convicted of the following crimes in the United States: drug trafficking, drug possession, child endangerment, burglary, assault and drunken driving.

Of the 16 arrested, four were accepted to be federally prosecuted for re-entering the United States after having been previously deported, which is a felony.

Following are criminal summaries of two arrested during this operation:

• A 35-year-old Mexican national with a prior conviction for felony endangerment of a child. She was arrested March 24 in Laredo and remains in ICE custody pending a hearing before a federal immigration judge.

• A 53-year-old Mexican national with prior convictions for felony drug trafficking, larceny and drunken driving. He also has prior arrests for assaulting a police officer and child endangerment. He was arrested March 25 in Laredo and has been deported.

“ICE's immigration enforcement efforts are focused on apprehending and removing convicted criminals and individuals who pose a threat to public safety," said Enrique M. Lucero, field office director for ERO San Antonio. "By focusing our resources on these most egregious offenders, there are fewer criminals in the streets of Laredo.”

All of the targets in this operation met the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's two top immigration enforcement priorities as established in DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson's 2014 memorandum. Priority 1 targets include threats to national security, criminal street gang members, convicted felons and aggravated felons. Priority 2 targets include convictions for three or more misdemeanors or convictions for significant misdemeanors, including DUIs.

Johnson has directed ICE to prioritize the use of enforcement personnel, detention space and removal assets to support the department's civil immigration enforcement priorities. ICE continues to work with local law enforcement partners to uphold public safety, while removing dangerous criminals from communities.

In fiscal year 2015, ICE conducted 235,413 removals nationwide. Ninety-one percent of the individuals removed from the interior of the United States had previously been convicted of a criminal offense.

ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal aliens who present the greatest risk to the security of our communities, such as those charged with or convicted of homicide, rape, robbery, kidnapping, major drug offenses and threats to national security.