ICE repatriates Mexican murder suspect captured in Las Vegas

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SAN DIEGO — A Mexican national captured recently in North Las Vegas, who is wanted for murder in his native country, was turned over Thursday to Mexican authorities at a San Diego-area border crossing by Las Vegas-based officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

Pedro Curiel-Herrera, 35, was transferred to the custody of representatives from the Mexican Attorney General's Office at the San Ysidro port of entry. Curiel is charged with homicide in an arrest warrant issued in January 1999 in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

According to Mexican authorities, on Oct. 25, 1998, Curiel fatally stabbed a man who intervened to protect a friend who was involved in a bar fight in El Grullo, Mexico. The victim, Jose Ismael Santana-Villegas, was stabbed three times, including a fatal wound to the chest. Less than a week after the murder, Department of Homeland Security databases indicate Curiel attempted to enter the U.S. at a border crossing in Calexico using fraudulent documents and alias. He was caught, processed for expedited removal and repatriated to Mexico the next day.

Two months ago, the FBI alerted ERO Las Vegas about the outstanding Mexican murder warrant. After investigating further, officers with the ERO Las Vegas Fugitive Operations Team located Curiel and arrested him without incident July 8 near his North Las Vegas residence. Because Curiel had been previously removed after his 1998 arrest in Calexico, ERO was able to reinstate that prior removal order, paving the way for Thursday's repatriation.

"The repatriation of this fugitive murder suspect is the direct result of the ongoing cooperation between U.S. law enforcement and our Mexican counterparts," Thomas E. Feeley, field office director for ERO Utah, Nevada, Montana and Idaho. "Violent criminals who believe they can evade the law by fleeing to the U.S. should be on notice they will find no refuge here."

Since Oct. 1, 2009, ERO has removed more than 720 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE's Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.

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