It was mid-afternoon when Mario Vidrio, an immigration enforcement agent assigned to the Escondido Police Department's Gang Task Force, responded to a call involving an unsafe lane change on one of Escondido, Calif.'s major thoroughfares. He didn't know that this traffic stop was going to help him take a dangerous criminal off the streets of southern California.
When Vidrio arrived at the scene, the subject did not have any identification, and when questioned, stated that he was a citizen of Mexico who was illegally in the United States. Vidrio immediately began conducting record checks, but several of them returned negative results. It wasn't until Vidrio transported the individual to back to the Escondido Police Department and ran his fingerprints against a series of databases that he received a positive result. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department had issued a $600,000 felony warrant for the arrest of this individual. He was charged with child molestation and had previously been deported.
This scenario is not unique. ICE's partnerships with local law enforcement agencies in northern San Diego Country have resulted in the arrest of more than 1,000 criminal aliens and immigration violators over the last two years.
The majority of these arrests occurred in Escondido, where nearly 800 individuals have been taken into custody since ICE and the Escondido Police Department launched Operation Joint Effort in May 2010. Operation Joint Effort helps the two agencies leverage resources to identify and arrest criminal aliens, fugitive aliens and aliens who have illegally returned to the United States after having been removed.
Robin Baker, field office director for the Enforcement and Removal Operations office in San Diego, is proud of the 1,000 arrests, but knows there is more work to do.
"This milestone clearly shows that our collaborative efforts with local law enforcement to improve public safety are having an impact," he said. "These partnerships have increased the number of potentially dangerous deportable criminals being removed from our communities and ultimately from our country."