- Immigration and Customs Enforcement was forced to devote much of its manpower to the U.S. southern border in 2019, removing key resources from its interior operations. Additionally, many liberal jurisdictions passed laws forbidding local cooperation with the agency.
- Despite these conditions, ICE deported a significant number of criminals during the 2019 calendar year, making communities across the country safer.
- The agency deported well over 100,000 convicted criminals, including gang members, terrorists, and others accused of heinous crimes.
Now that 2019 has come and gone, the Daily Caller News Foundation takes a look at some of the worst convicted criminals deported by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) over the year.
Despite a national security crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border that forced a significant portion of its resources away from the interior of the country, and the passage of local and state laws by Democratic lawmakers that largely prohibited cooperation between law enforcement and their agency, ICE still removed a significant number of criminals out of the U.S.
In fiscal year 2019, which does not include the entirety of the 2019 calendar year, the agency repatriated 150,141 convicted criminals, an ICE spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Caller New Foundation. In fiscal year 2020 (which began in October), the agency repatriated 26,327 convicted criminals as of Dec. 14. These individuals include known or suspected gang members, known or suspected terrorists, and people convicted of a number of other crimes.
In honor of the New Year, the DCNF examined just a few of the most heinous criminals deported by ICE in 2019.
Slobo Maric — War Criminal
Slobo Maric, originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, became a U.S. citizen in 2002, but later had his citizenship revoked and was removed when authorities discovered he hid his past war crimes.
Maric had previously been a member of the Bosnian Army and committed war crimes during the Bosnian Conflict in the 1990s. As a shift leader in a Bosnian detention facility, Maric participated in the abuse and humiliation of prisoners. The Bosnian government charged him for his actions, and after he fled to the U.S., was indicted and convicted in absentia for war crimes.
Upon this discovery, U.S. authorities sentenced Maric to 18 months in prison and revoked his citizenship. Afterward, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations deported him back to Bosnia.
Arturo Lopez-Mendez — Alleged Child Rapist
Arturo Lopez-Mendez, a Mexican national, was deported by ICE in June on charges in his home country relating to the gruesome rape of a 7-year-old girl.
In November 2000, the Criminal Judicial Branch in Sinaloa, Mexico, issued a warrant on Lopez-Mendez, also known as “El Mocho.” However, he was able to evade apprehension and later entered the U.S. It was until June 2018 when Mexican authorities notified ICE he carried outstanding rape charges. According to the charge, Lopez-Mendez “allegedly assaulted and raped a seven-year-old female at a private residence, leaving the victim with visible signs of the assault, including blood-soaked pants and legs,” according to an ICE statement.
El Mocho was ultimately placed in ICE custody in April 2019, and was repatriated just two months later.
Houcine Ghoul — ISIS Supporter
ICE deported Houcine Ghoul, a Tunisian national, back to his home country in June after authorities discovered that he violated the terms of his tourist visa, made numerous false statements in an attempt to become a U.S. citizen, and was an active supporter of the Islamic State.
Ghoul first entered the U.S. on a tourist visa in 2001, and committed a number of immigration violations. However, it was until he posted an online photo in 2014 when authorities began to look into his case. Ghoul’s photograph displayed an individual holding a sign that read in Arabic, “The victory of the islamic State in Iraq and Syria.” That same photo appeared in an online propaganda video by other supporters of the terrorist organization. Ghoul described himself online as an “extremist, terrorist, tough, brain-washed, radical, I love explosions, booby trapping, beading the enemy, and am among the supporters of establishing the religion with the sword,” according to an ICE statement. (RELATED: Program That Can Quickly Process And Deport Migrants Has Expanded Along The Border)
Authorities later determined he had been an active supporter of ISIS online and in person, and had committed numerous immigration violations, including marrying someone to obtain immigration benefits, in attempt to gain legal permanent status and ultimately U.S. citizenship. A judge sentenced him to 24 months in prison, followed by deportation.
Juan Ramon Avila-Leon — Convicted Child Molester
Juan Ramon Avila-Leon, a Mexican national, was deported by ICE in September following his conviction of child molestation. And thanks to the work of Border Patrol, he was apprehended before he could illegally re-enter the U.S. just weeks later.
Avila-Leon was first charged with three counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes and child molestation in July 2018. Upon an interview by ICE, the agency lodged a detainer request to take him into its custody. The Mexican national was ultimately convicted of child molestation, and also convicted of four counts of commutation with a minor for immoral purposes in August of the same year.
On Sept. 5, 2019, he was ordered by a judge to be removed from the U.S. — ICE deported him just days later. The following month, Border Patrol agents spotted Avila-Leon attempting to enter the country illegally near the California-Mexico border, and were able to arrest him before he could escape.
Ezra Dave Maling — Alleged Murder
Ezra Dave Maling, a Philippine national, was deported by ICE in May after authorities discovered he was wanted for murder in his home country. He stands accused of choking his then-girlfriend to death before fleeing to the U.S., and was able to live under the shadows for years before people started becoming suspicious of his past.
Maling is accused of strangling Rebeny Vergara, then his live-in partner in the Philippines, with a leather belt in 2003. He avoided arrest from local authorities by fleeing to the U.S. and living here for roughly 16 years. During that time, he lived a double life, working as a musical instructor for a church in the San Francisco area. However, it was his apparent ego that ultimately led to his arrest and deportation.
Maling, according to Balitang America, told his church congregants about his musical achievements in his home country. Curious to know what he had done, members began to search him online, but instead of finding the musical accomplishments he spoke of, they discovered his alleged dark past. Word eventually spread to U.S. authorities, and he was deported by ICE in May.
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