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Press Release

Native of El Salvador Sentenced for Illegal Re-Entry After Deportation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Alabama

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A federal judge sentenced a native of El Salvador for illegal re-entry into the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger.

U.S. District Court Judge Anna Manasco sentenced Juan Carlos Portillo, also known as Jose Alberto Zamora Zamora, Jose Alberto Lopez, Jose Alberto Zamora-Penate, Juan Alberto Zamora-Zamora, and Jose Adalberto Lopez-Lopez, 30, to the statutory maximum sentence of 24 months in prison.  In February, Portillo pleaded guilty to one count of illegal re-entry after deportation.

According to the plea agreement, in July 2023, Homeland Security Investigations Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Birmingham received a tip from ERO San Salvador that Portillo was allegedly residing with one of his sisters, in Columbiana, Alabama.  In August 2023, HSI ERO received information that Portillo was at a residence in Chelsea, Alabama, working as a subcontractor. HSI agents searched the residence and found Portillo inside.  Portillo was taken into custody. 

According to HSI, Portillo is currently wanted in El Salvador and has a total of six arrest warrants for aggravated kidnapping, attempted aggravated homicide, illicit association, aggravated extortion, terrorist organization, deprivation of liberty and aggravated homicide.  ERO San Salvador reported that Portillo is the alleged leader of one of the most violent cliques of the MS-13 gang in El Salvador. INTERPOL has also issued a Red Notice on Portillo.

HSI ERO investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory R. Dimler prosecuted the case.

Updated June 28, 2024