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ERO Houston removes foreign fugitive wanted for homicide in Mexico

HOUSTON — Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Houston Field Office, with assistance from ERO Mexico and the Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement (SAFE) Task Force in Mexico, removed a foreign fugitive from the U.S. Jan. 30 who is wanted for homicide in his home country of Mexico.

On Jan. 29, immigration officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ERO Houston Field Office transported Jose Matilde Rico Sanchez, a 48-year-old unlawfully present Mexican national, from the Montgomery Processing Center in Conroe, Texas, to the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge in, Laredo, Texas. Upon arrival at the bridge on Jan. 30, Rico was transferred into the custody of Mexican law enforcement authorities.

Rico illegally entered the U.S. without inspection or parole on an unknown date near Del Rio, Texas. He was first encountered by ERO Houston on Sept. 2, 2015, at the Harris County Jail following his arrest for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and an immigration detainer was lodged with the jail. On March 28, 2016, Rico was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the 180th District Court in Houston and he was sentenced to eight years in state prison. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice released Rico from custody on Jan. 4, 2023, and he was transferred into ICE custody pursuant to the immigration detainer. On Jan. 9, 2023, Mexican officials confirmed to ERO Houston that Rico is wanted Guanajuato, Mexico, for homicide. An immigration judge (IJ) with the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review ordered Rico removed from the U.S. to Mexico on Jan. 19, 2023, and his removal was executed by ICE officers Jan. 30.

In addition to being convicted of aggravated assault in the U.S., Rico has also been convicted of driving while intoxicated and failure to stop on Dec. 15, 1999, in Harris County, Texas.

“This individual fled Mexico to avoid prosecution for his alleged crimes and he has continued to engage in criminal activity while here illegally in the U.S.,” said Acting Field Office Director Gabriel Martinez, ERO Houston. “By removing him from the U.S. to Mexico, we have eliminated a threat to public safety in our local community and sent a resounding message that Southeast Texas will not be a refuge for foreign fugitives or anyone who undermines the integrity of our nation’s immigration and criminal laws.”

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.

For more news and information on how the ICE ERO Houston Field Office carries out its immigration enforcement mission in Southeast Texas follow us on Twitter @EROHouston.

The SAFE Program is a fugitive enforcement and information sharing partnership that was created in 2012 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 SAFE Program operates under the respective host nation’s AAR, which constructs a SAFE task force composed of relevant foreign law enforcement agencies, immigration authorities, attorneys general, and national identification repositories – as well as other regional, national, state, and local government agencies. The managing AAR ensures that each task force member complies with SAFE policies and standards consistent with the program’s standard operating procedures. Once established, the AAR-led SAFE task force generates new leads and vets existing SAFE fugitive referrals for ERO action.

ERO, a directorate of ICE, upholds U.S. immigration law at, within, and beyond our borders. ERO operations target public safety threats, such as convicted criminal noncitizens and gang members, who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-enter the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges. ERO deportation officers assigned to Interpol also assist in targeting foreign fugitives for crimes committed abroad at-large in the U.S. ERO manages all aspects of the immigration enforcement process, including identification and arrest, detention, bond management, supervised release, transportation, and removal. Additionally, ERO repatriates noncitizens ordered removed from the U.S. to more than 150 countries worldwide.

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