Prosecutions Continue In Illegal Entry Cases Involving Those With Prior Criminal Records
MINNEAPOLIS -- In the District of Minnesota, court action continued in two separate cases regarding foreign nationals who entered the United States illegally after being deported as criminals. Earlier today, one individual was sentenced, while yesterday, a second man pleaded guilty to the same offense.
In the first case, United States District Court Judge Ann D. Montgomery sentenced Miguel Meraz-Moreno, age 51, to 27 months in federal prison on one count of illegal reentry after removal. He was indicted on February 6, 2012, and pleaded guilty on March 23, 2012. In his plea agreement, Meraz-Moreno admitted that on December 27, 2011, he was found in the U.S. illegally after having been previously deported following a conviction for an aggravated felony.
The current federal charge stemmed from a December 27, 2011, arrest on drug charges following the execution of a state search warrant. Meraz-Moreno was in the Hennepin County jail when authorities identified him as an illegal alien with a criminal record. That identification was made though the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Criminal Alien Program (“CAP”). The goal of that program is to locate criminal aliens incarcerated in federal and state prisons, as well as in local jails, and prevent them from being released into society by having them federally prosecuted for illegally re-entry.
This case was the result of an investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (“ICE ERO”). It was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Colin P. Johnson.
On July 24, 2012, in St. Paul, Milton Gonzalez, age 35, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle. He was indicted on June 18, 2012. In his plea agreement, Gonzalez admitted that on May 7, 2012, he was found in the U.S. after having been previously deported in 2005, following a Wisconsin conviction for possession with intent to distribute amphetamine. Most recently, Gonzalez was stopped for speeding by the Prairie Island, Minnesota, tribal police and arrested on active warrants for possession and sale of counterfeit checks. He was in the Dakota County Jail when he was identified via the CAP.
For his crime, Gonzalez faces a potential maximum penalty of 20 years. Judge Kyle will determine his sentence at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled. This case is the result of an investigation by ICE ERO. It is also being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Johnson.
In some instances, federal prosecution occurs only after the individual has been prosecuted for the recent underlying offense. Both men will be deported after serving their federal sentences. To learn more about the CAP, visit www.ice.gov/criminal-alien-program/