Posted: 4:03 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012


Two Salvadoran criminal fugitives recently captured in northern California - one wanted for murder, the other for weapons trafficking - have been handed over to authorities in their native country, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offiicals.

Josue Alfredo Melendez-Martinez, 34, and Manuel De Jesus Serpas Hernandez, 34, were deported to El Salvador on board a charter flight coordinated by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations Air Operations Unit.

Upon arrival, the suspects were turned over to awaiting officials from the El Salvadoran Civilian National Police. The two former fugitives were both located following their arrests in Northern California.

Melendez-Martinez is wanted on a criminal warrant issued in 2006 in El Salvador for trafficking and possession of firearms. The documented member of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) gang is also facing charges in his native country for his alleged involvement in the killing of a police officer.

Melendez-Martinez was taken into custody in August after receiving a lead from Stanislaus County Probation officers. He was detained and ordered deported by an immigration judge Aug. 28.

The second fugitive, Serpas Hernandez, is the subject of a Salvadoran criminal warrant charging him with murder and “serious wounding.”

According to the Interpol Red Notice, the suspect allegedly fatally shot his former girlfriend and seriously wounded her friend following an argument in Usulutan, El Salvador, in 1999.

In December 2011, a Los Angeles immigration officer who had been searching for Serpas Hernandez for more than a year discovered he was incarcerated at the San Francisco County Jail on local charges.

Immigration lodged an immigration hold on Serpas Hernandez and he came into ICE custody in March after serving his sentence for child endangerment. On Aug. 21, an immigration judge ordered Serpas Hernandez deported, paving the way for his repatriation to El Salvador.

Since Oct. 1, 2009, immigration has removed more than 500 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder.

Two high-profile Salvadoran fugitives captured in Northern... |