Posted: Nov 16, 2012 6:22 PM
Updated: Nov 16, 2012 6:34 PM
McALLEN - A team of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are tracking down illegal immigrants with criminal records.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS joined the team during a recent operation.
The officers' first target was a known gang member and child sex offender.
"This tip came in within the last week," ICE Field Office Director Enrique Lucero said.
"Convicted of indecency with a child and sentenced to seven years," Lucero said of the suspect.
Lucero is familiar with the felon's record.
"(He) also been convicted of four DUIs," Lucero said.
The suspect is a repeat immigration violator, Lucero said. The man is not allowed in the country. Still, he is living in Progreso, Lucero said.
"Generally the hardest part is just finding them. Knowing where they're hiding," Lucero said.
A week worth of surveillance was followed by an hour of waiting and watching.
The officers follow patterns. Their current target leaves the house at the same time every morning, except the morning they arrived at his house.
Officers searched a truck, house and yard, but only found the man's family members.
"They're claiming they haven't seen him, even though we know that's not true," Lucero said.
His team will look for new leads.
"Hopefully we can still find him today," Lucero said.
"He probably won't go to that address for a while," he said.
Officers move on to other assignments.
This time they are looking for a 42-year-old Mexican national. He is another deported gang member with a lengthy criminal history.
"He's also been convicted of possession with intent to deliver marijuana," Lucero said.
The team heads to Mission search for the man.
ICE has two fugitive operations teams along the Rio Grande Valley. A new policy requires that they look for illegal immigrants with criminal records.
"We focus on criminal aliens, immigration fugitives ... recent border entrants and threats to national security, of course," Lucero said.
The team's intelligence work paid off. A known prison gang member was arrested. The man will be tried and likely jailed. He eventually will be sent back to Mexico.
"The individuals apprehended today are probably looking at anywhere from 12 to 60 months," Lucero said.
Lucero and his team finished the day with a third arrest. They arrested a convicted human smuggler in Weslaco.