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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Tennessee

Monday, February 10, 2020

U.S. Attorney Statement On The Actions Announced Today By The Department Of Justice Against Sanctuary City Jurisdictions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – February 10, 2020 – U.S. Attorney Don Cochran issued the following statement:

“Today, Attorney General William Barr announced significant actions the Justice Department is undertaking involving several jurisdictions around the country alleging that the policies of these cities and states interfere with lawful federal immigration and enforcement activities and jeopardize public safety.  I applaud the actions of Attorney General Barr and join with him in our quest to make America’s cities safer.

I am grateful that the State of Tennessee enacted a law last year, which prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting sanctuary city policies.  The misguided attempts and efforts of a few to provide sanctuary for illegal aliens would have placed our communities in grave danger and severely hampered the efforts of law enforcement to protect our communities from preventable criminal acts. 

Recent and past examples where dangerous, illegal aliens were removed from our communities and prosecuted by my office during the last year include:

  • Douglas Benitez Herrera, of Honduras, was charged with illegal re-entry into the United States after having been deported in 2015 following convictions for first degree manslaughter, robbery, aggravated assault and other aggravated felonies.
  • Juan Hernandez-Moreno, a citizen of Mexico, was charged with illegal re-entry, after being arrested in Clarksville for domestic assault.  Hernandez-Moreno had previously been convicted and deported after having been arrested on numerous occasions for domestic violence offenses.
  • Cuauhtemoc Serafin-Benitez, a citizen of Mexico, was charged with illegal re-entry after having been previously deported five times.  In 2014 he was convicted in U.S. District Court, in Nashville, of conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine.
  • Carlos A. Vaquerano-Rodriguez was charged with illegal re-entry after being arrested in Nashville for aggravated assault and robbery, while brandishing a machete.  He had previously been charged in California with serious crimes including robbery, aggravated assault and having sex with a minor.  He had also been previously deported.
  • Gerson Serrano-Ramirez, a previously deported illegal alien and MS-13 gang member from El Salvador, was convicted by a jury of torturing a witness, multiple firearms violations and multiple cocaine distribution charges.  Serrano-Ramirez was sentenced last year to 19 years in prison.
  • Angel Daniel-Garcia, of Mexico, twice previously deported and convicted of armed robberies, was indicted last fall and is facing new firearm and drug offenses.
  • Franklin Pineda-Caceras, of Honduras, previously deported in 2018, was indicted last fall for illegally re-entering the United States and firearms and drug distribution crimes.  He is also accused of kidnapping a local high school student and attempting to force the student to join the MS-13 gang.
  • Oscar Degaldo Flores, of El Salvador, and Luis Colindres, of Honduras, also MS-13 gang members, were charged in 2018 with conspiracy; witness tampering; firearms offenses and causing death through the use of a firearm.  They are accused of killing one individual and then killing another individual to prevent them from testifying.
  • Jose Lopez-Ruiz, an illegal alien from Guatemala was charged last year with illegally re-entering the United States.  Lopez-Ruiz had previously been deported seven times and had been convicted of five DUI offenses, with a sixth DUI charge pending. 


These are but a few examples of cases in the Middle District of Tennessee where serious crimes have been committed by persons who were in this country illegally.  Without the cooperation of our local, state and federal law enforcement partners, it is highly likely that other innocent people would have been subjected to acts of intimidation, torture, and even murdered; more illicit and addictive drugs would have flowed into our neighborhoods; more businesses would have been robbed; other women and children would have been assaulted by an abusive partner; and thousands of motorists would have had to navigate our roadways with another drunk driver. 

Sanctuary jurisdiction policies jeopardize public safety by preventing the federal government from locating, arresting, and prosecuting removable aliens inside the United States.  I am grateful for the cooperative spirt of our law enforcement partners in the Middle District of Tennessee.  Just as it is with all other investigations, we are only able to achieve the best outcomes when we all work together.  Anything less hampers our prevention and enforcement efforts.” 

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David Boling Public Information Officer 615-736-5956
Updated February 10, 2020