A Salvadoran man wanted for aggravated homicide in his home country was deported Friday by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in Houston.
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.
Alexander Pineda-Ponce, 33, was flown to El Salvador Aug. 14 onboard a charter flight coordinated by ICE’s Air Operations (IAO) Unit. Upon arrival, Pineda was turned over to officials from the 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 this foreign fugitive being safely returned to his home country where he can face justice.”
Pineda was arrested by Deer Park PD after a traffic violation May 6 and released into ICE custody. That same day Pineda was screened through ICE’s Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which revealed that an Interpol warrant had been issued for his arrest by Salvadoran officials for homicide and murder. Pineda was previously deported twice from the U.S. in December 2001 and again in June 2011.
Pineda is the latest Salvadoran removal 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.