Two Salvadoran men wanted for the aggravated homicide of three men in 2011 in their home country were deported Wednesday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
This removal is the latest result of stepped up collaborative efforts to locate Salvadoran criminal fugitives in the United States and return them to El Salvador to face justice.
Carlos Gomar-Castro, 26, and Willfredys Castro-Villalobos, 33, were flown to El Salvador April 15 onboard a charter flight coordinated by ICE’s Air Operations (IAO) Unit. Upon arrival, both were turned over to officials from El Salvador’s Policia Nacional Civil (PNC).
“Identifying and removing foreign fugitives from the United States is an ICE priority,” said Steven P. Boll, field office director of ERO Houston. “The cooperation between the United States and the El Salvadoran government resulted in these foreign fugitives being safely returned to their home country where they will face justice.”
Both Gomar-Castro and Castro-Villalobos were encountered and arrested Feb. 19 by ERO’s Fugitive Operations officers in Houston. Salvadoran authorities issued a warrant Jan. 10, 2015 for their arrest for aggravated homicide in September 2011.
According to the Salvadoran warrant, Gomar-Castro and Castro-Villalobos were travelling in a vehicle that struck three men on a bicycle. One of the men on the bike was run over and killed, while two others fled on foot. Gomar-Castro and Castro-Villalobos gave chase, ultimately catching and killing the two men.
Gomar-Castro was previously encountered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol (BP) agents and charged with being inadmissable to the U.S. and was placed on bond in January 2013.
Castro-Villalobos was previously encountered by BP agents in September 2005 and charged with being inadmissible to the U.S. He was released on his own recognizance, but failed to appear at his immigration hearing. On Dec. 1, 2005, an immigration judge ordered his removal in absentia. In April 2008, Castro-Villalobos was encountered at the Harris County (Texas) Jail and turned over to ICE. He had been previously deported to El Salvador May 5, 2008.
The deportations of Gomar-Castro and Castro-Villalobos are examples of expanded bi-national cooperation to identify, arrest and repatriate Salvadoran criminal suspects who have fled to the United States to avoid prosecution in their home country. As part of this effort, ICE officers are working closely with PNC, the Salvadoran National Interpol Office and Salvadoran immigration.
Gomar-Castro and Castro-Villalobos are the latest Salvadoran removals as part of ERO’s Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement (SAFE) Initiative. The SAFE Initiative is geared toward identifying foreign fugitives who are wanted abroad and removable under U.S. immigration law. In just three years, through the SAFE Initiative, ERO has removed more than 480 criminal fugitives to El Salvador. Those removed as part of the SAFE Initiative have been deemed ineligible to remain in the United States and were all wanted by PNC. SAFE aligns with ERO’s public safety priorities and eliminates the need for formal extradition requests.
In fiscal year 2014, ERO removed 315,943 individuals from the United States. In addition to convicted criminals, the agency’s enforcement priorities include those apprehended while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States, illegal re-entrants — individuals who returned to the United States after being previously removed by ICE — and immigration fugitives. In fiscal year 2014, 98 percent of ICE removals met these priorities.