BALTIMORE — A Colombian man was returned to his native country Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Robert Alexis Saldarriaga-Yepes, 20, a citizen of Colombia who was residing in New Market, Md., was arrested Dec. 6, 2012, by Frederick County Sheriff deputies on child exploitation related charges. The victim was a 9-year-old girl. On May 20, 2013, Saldarriaga was found guilty of sex abuse of a minor and sentenced by Frederick County Circuit Court Judge G. Edward Dwyer, Jr. to 30 years in prison with all but 18 months suspended.
On Aug. 12, 2010, Saldarriaga entered the United States from Colombia as an F-1 student attending Carroll Christian Schools in Westminster, Md. On Feb. 25, 2013, Saldarriaga was encountered at the Frederick County Detention Center by 287(g) cross designated immigration enforcement officers and later placed in immigration removal proceedings. Following his criminal conviction, ICE executed an administrative deportation order Sept. 12, 2013, charging Saldarriaga as an aggravated felon and ordered his removal from the United States to Colombia. On March 10, Saldarriaga was taken into ERO custody and transported to the Worcester County Detention Center pending his removal.
"By removing child sex offenders from our streets and our country, ICE is continuing our commitment to improving public safety in our communities and for our nation's children in particular," said Dorothy Herrera-Niles, field office director for ERO Baltimore. ERO's 287(g) program with the Frederick County Sheriff's Office further ensures that criminal aliens like Saldarriaga, who pose a threat to law abiding residents in Maryland, are removed from the country when they complete their criminal cases, rather than being released to the streets."
Saldarriaga arrived via an ICE Air Operations charter flight at the El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, Colombia and was turned over to Colombian law enforcement authorities by ERO officers.
Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said, "This is one of many cases that should demonstrate the importance of the 287(g) program to a community as a public safety tool to protect our citizens. This convicted child predator will not be on the streets of Frederick County victimizing our children. This program facilitates the process that will remove criminal aliens such as Saldarriaga from the Unites States. Without 287(g) in Frederick County he would have been released back on to our streets. This is a public safety partnership."
ICE routinely uses special air charters to transport aliens who have final orders of removal from an immigration judge. Staffed by ICE ERO Air Operations officers, these air charters enable the agency to repatriate large groups of deportees in an efficient, expeditious, and humane manner.
In fiscal year 2013, ICE conducted 368,644 removals nationwide. Nearly 60 percent of ICE's total removals had been previously convicted of a criminal offense; 82 percent of individuals removed from the interior of the United States had previously been convicted of a criminal offense.