Three-Time Deportee Arrested In Texas On California Murder Charges From 19 Years Ago

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Posted: Sep 18, 2019 2:30 PM
Three-Time Deportee Arrested In Texas On California Murder Charges From 19 Years Ago

Source: AP Photo/Gregory Bull

A man previously deported three times from the United States has been arrested in Houston, Texas after authorities say they received a tip that Leopoldo Serrano Vargas -- aka Leonel Serrano Vargas and Ricardo Hernandez -- was living in the Houston area and was connected to the California murder of Luis Garcia Bucio in October 2000.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a press release Tuesday saying that "[Anaheim Police Department] detectives contacted ICE officials earlier this year after receiving a tip from the [ Orange County (California) District Attorney’s] office that a suspect from a 2000 homicide was possibly living in the Houston area under an assumed name. APD and ERO Houston further investigated, which led to ICE locating and arresting Serrano Vargas. Following this arrest, OCDA’s Science and Technology Unit assisted in confirming Serrano Vargas’ identity through the use of Rapid DNA technology." 

Apparently, Serrano Vargas was removed from the U.S. three times in less than a week in 2006. "In December 2006, Serrano Vargas illegally entered the U.S. three times in a span of eight days; he was removed to Mexico on Dec. 12, Dec. 14 and Dec. 18," ICE said. He then returned again and had been hiding in the U.S. for 13 years. 

"For almost two decades this criminal alien fugitive has gone to tremendous lengths to avoid detection by law enforcement authorities for his alleged crimes in California," Patrick Contreras, field office director for ICE Houston, told the media. 

"Our ICE Fugitive Operations team tracked down and arrested Serrano Vargas, removing a potentially dangerous criminal alien from our community and ensuring that he will face prosecution for his alleged crimes," Contreras added.

Vargas was arrested on September 11, and faces extradition back to California to face trial for the alleged 2000 murder. 

This report comes as Democratic candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders have called for a ban on all deportations of illegal immigrants residing in the country. In the fiscal year 2018, ICE arrested 1,641 illegal immigrants with homicide convictions.