Colorado ICE officers deport MS-13 gang member wanted for homicide in El Salvador

This photo comes from the second national wave of Operation Cross Check, an effort by ICE to arrest and deport undocumented immigrants with criminal records. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Released)
July 07, 2020

A Salvadoran national wanted for homicide in his home country was removed July 3 by officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Elvis Antonio Velasquez-Molina, 29, from El Salvador, was arrested by ICE officers May 23 near Staten Island, New York after a warrant for his arrest was discovered during a records check.

“Gangs like MS-13 are an insidious source of violence and many forms of other criminal activity in communities here and abroad,” said John Fabbricatore, field office director for ERO Denver “Velasquez-Molina will now face justice in his home country for the egregious crimes he is accused of committing. We’re grateful for the international partnerships that help make arrests like these happen.”

Velasquez-Molina entered the U.S. without authorization and was first encountered Dec. 18, 2012, by U.S. Border Patrol, and placed into immigration proceedings. He was charged with removal under of the Immigration and Nationality Act by an immigration judge, who ordered him removed in absentia, May 8, 2019. He was later encountered in New York, where he was arrested by ICE officers.

Velasquez-Molina was removed from the United States via an ICE Air Operations charter flight to Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Salvador, El Salvador. Upon arrival, he was transferred to the custody of El Salvador’s Policia Nacional Civil (PNC).

ICE ERO El Salvador and its Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement (SAFE) task force provided information that assisted in Velasquez-Molina’s arrest. SAFE is a fugitive enforcement and information sharing partnership that operates primarily out of the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras under the respective host nation’s Assistant Attaché for Removal. ERO created the SAFE program in 2012 with El Salvadoran law enforcement authorities to better use subject information derived from local in-country investigative resources and leads to locate, apprehend, detain, and remove individuals residing in the U.S. illegally who were subject to foreign arrest warrants.

The transnational street gang La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13, has local chapters, or cliques, throughout the world, including El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States. MS-13 members and associates engage in crimes such as murder, narcotics trafficking, extortion, and obstruction of justice. MS-13 members enforce gang rules and protect gang territory with violence, including murder.

ICE has removed hundreds of thousands of criminal aliens, some of whom fall under the category of high-profile removals, since the agency was established in March 2003.

High-profile removals include those who are wanted for a crime in another country, regardless of severity, such as murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, drug offenses, alien smuggling, fraud or theft. Others include persons who are national security risks, such as suspected terrorists, those involved in counter-proliferation crimes or those on the terrorist watch list and/or the no-fly list, along with human rights or war crimes violators.

ICE removed or returned 267,000 aliens in fiscal year 2019 ERO arrested 143,000 aliens, more than 86% percent of whom had criminal convictions, pending criminal charges, or previously issued final orders.

ICE is focused on removing public safety threats, such as convicted criminal aliens and gang members, as well as individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-entered the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges.

Members of the public who have information about foreign fugitives are urged to contact ICE by calling the ICE Tip Line at 1 (866) 347-2423 or internationally at 001-1802-872-6199. They can also file a tip online by completing ICE’s online tip form.