HOUSTON, Texas — Immigration officers deported a Salvadoran MS-13 gang member wanted in his home country for multiple homicides. He was turned over to officers in El Salvador on Friday.
“The apprehension of known gang members and foreign fugitives in the United States is an ICE priority,” Patrick D. Contreras, field office director of ERO Houston, said in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “The cooperation between the United States and Salvadoran governments resulted in the removal of this foreign fugitive.”
The arrest of the Salvadoran MS-13 gang member came as a result of a multi-agency law enforcement effort that includes the Texas Anti-Gang (TAG) Task Force. Texas Governor Greg Abbott promised that the Houston area would become “hostile territory” for MS-13 and other violent gang members during a press conference attended by Breitbart Texas in April.
“This recent wave of senseless violence cannot continue,” Governor Abbott said at the time. “Government’s foremost responsibility is to keep our citizens safe and secure. Texas will take action and use all lawful means to put an end to this lawlessness.”
The Governor pledged state resources to:
- Establish a Tactical Operations Center in Houston to enhance and coordinate operations around the clock.
- Provide $500,000 in new funding from the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division to increase Texas Anti-Gang Center resources in the Houston area.
- Deploy additional Texas Rangers and DPS Special Agents to support local law enforcement.
- Deploy added technology, including air assets and patrol unit tracking, to enhance timely collection and analysis of intelligence.
Abbott called for an “all hands on deck” response to the wave of violence in the Houston area perpetrated by MS-13.
On September 5, Salvadoran officials provided Enforcement Removal Operations (ERO) officers with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) two homicide warrants calling for the extradition of Rene Mauricio Joya-Villata aka Rafael Antonio Joya-Saenz, 26. Officers had Joya-Villata in custody following an August 24 raid on his home in League City, Texas. The arrest followed a lead developed by the Texas TAG.
El Salvador listed Joya-Villata as one of their top 100 most-wanted fugitives.
ERO officers have successfully deported more than 600 Salvadoran fugitives in a three-year period under the agency’s Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement (SAFE) program.