SAN ANTONIO (KXAN) - Following a five-day Texas-wide U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation, 40 convicted illegal immigrant sex offenders and 10 other immigration violators were arrested by officers with ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Seven of the arrests occurred in the South and Central Texas areas. They are citizens of Mexico.
ERO's Operation SOAR began Saturday and ended Wednesday.
The goal of this operation, dubbed "SOAR" (Sex Offender Alien Removal), was to identify, locate and arrest illegal immigrants who have convictions for sex crimes, especially sex crimes against children.
This is the first statewide operation that specifically targeted this criminal element, according to ICE officials. The operation was coordinated with ERO's 16 Fugitive Operations Teams in Texas, and Texas DPS.
Of those arrested, each of them had prior convictions for sex crimes such as:
- indecency with a child, sexual conduct
- aggravated sexual assault of a child
- sex offense against a child.
Of the 50 men arrested throughout Texas, 40 were convicted sex offenders. The remaining 10 men had other felony convictions.
"Collaborative operations like this clearly show the public safety impact when ICE teams up with our law enforcement partners to target criminal aliens," said Enrique M. Lucero, field office director for ERO San Antonio. "Our number one goal is prioritizing our resources to keep our communities safe. By targeting our efforts on these egregious offenders, ICE and DPS are making the best use of our resources and removing these criminals from our streets and the country."
"DPS is proud to have worked together with ICE in this successful operation to target and apprehend ruthless criminals who prey on Texans," said Texas DPS director Steven McCraw. "These types of coordinated efforts between law enforcement agencies at all levels are critical to protecting our communities and keeping criminals off our streets."
Following are summaries of two men arrested in South Texas during this operation:
- A 47-year-old Mexican national was convicted and sentenced on January 1996 to 10 years for intent to commit sexual assault. He was arrested Sept. 8 at his Harlingen, Texas residence and remains in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.
- A 33-year-old Mexican national was convicted and sentenced on October 1997 to three years for indecency with a child by exposure. He was arrested by ERO officers Sept. 8 at his home in Bartlett, Texas. After completing his prison sentence, he was deported on July 2005 and illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony. He is now pending prosecution for re-entering the United States after being formally removed.
Three of seven arrested had been previously removed from the country and illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony. All three cases have been accepted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for re-entry after deportation.
Texas ICE Offices removed nearly 1,300 sex offenders during fiscal year 2012.
These arrests were coordinated with ICE's National Fugitive Operations Program, which is responsible for investigating, locating, arresting and removing at-large criminal aliens and immigration fugitives — illegal immigrants who have ignored final orders of deportation handed down by federal immigration courts. ICE's Fugitive Operations teams give top priority to cases involving aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety, including members of transnational street gangs and child sex offenders.
ICE is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that targets serious criminal illegal immigrants 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.
ICE also prioritizes the arrest and removal of those who game the immigration system, including immigration fugitives or criminal illegal immigrants who have been previously deported and illegally re-entered the country.
The freezing and near-freezing rain that swooped into Central Texas overnight prompted numerous school closings and delays and made for a harrowing morning commute on Friday.
A man is charged with murder in the shooting death Wednesday of a woman at a North Austin auto repair shop, police said Friday.
A man is expected to survive after being stabbed in the head at the Salvation Army shelter in Downtown Austin at about 3:45 a.m. Friday.
As the Austin area prepares itself for an impending winter storm on Friday, Dec. 6, many schools have already announced delays.
With freezing temperatures pushing through the region, heating systems will likely be working overtime, which can bring rising energy bills.
Investigators are looking into an overnight fire that left one woman with third-degree burns.