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United States Attorney Justin E. Herdman announces the continued commitment of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio to prosecuting illegal reentry cases.  Those cases involving additional criminal conduct, violent attacks, or conduct that threatens public safety, will also remain a priority for federal prosecution.

Earlier today, Attorney General William P. Barr said, “Let us state the reality up front and as clearly as possible: When we are talking about sanctuary cities, we are talking about policies that are designed to allow criminal aliens to escape.  These policies are not about people who come to our country illegally but have otherwise been peaceful and productive members of society.  Their express purpose is to shelter aliens whom local law enforcement has already arrested for other crimes.  This is neither lawful nor sensible.” 

“Our ability to protect our community from violent criminals always depends upon close cooperation between federal, state, and local law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman.  “Nowhere is this principle illustrated more profoundly than instances when individuals are in this country illegally, often after having been removed multiple times before, and commit additional criminal acts here in the United States. A series of cases prosecuted by this Office help highlight this threat.  We are grateful to all of our local law enforcement officials who stand arm in arm with us in keeping our neighbors safe every day.”

Examples of illegal reentry cases that warranted federal prosecution and demonstrated an elevated threat to the public include the following:

U.S. v. Adalberto Reynoso-Lopez

Defendant, a native and citizen of Mexico, was ordered removed by a Cleveland Immigration Court on October 26, 2007.  Following that order, Defendant was removed to Mexico, but he immediately reentered the United States and was apprehended and removed to Mexico five more times in the following years (once in 2008, twice in 2013, and twice in 2014). Before, during, and after those removals, the defendant, often using an alias, was convicted seven times of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs, and one conviction each for Obstruction of Official Business, Ethnic Intimidation, Disorderly Conduct, Theft, and Driving with a Suspended License.

Following his most recent conviction on January 8, 2020 for Obstruction of Official Business in Marion County, Ohio, the defendant was taken into ICE custody. On February 5, 2020, he was indicted in the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division for violating Title 8, United States Code, Section 1326 (Illegal Reentry) where he awaits trial.  The government will be required to prove these allegations beyond a reasonable doubt should this matter proceed to trial.  The defendant was also convicted of Illegal Entry (Title 8, United States Code, Section 1325) in July of 2014, in the Southern District of Texas, where he received a 30-day term of imprisonment after which he was deported.

U.S. v. Marco Antonio Barrera-Escobedo

Defendant, who is a citizen of Mexico, originally illegally entered the United States and moved to Ohio around 2000.  After being discovered illegally present in 2007 and 2008, he was removed three separate times.  (May 30, 2007, June 21, 2007 and June 29, 2008).  After his May 30, 2007 removal, he was found in New Mexico on June 2, 2007, and subsequently charged and convicted of illegal reentry and deported. After each removal, the defendant almost immediately returned to the U.S. without regard to the reentry requirements, and with total disrespect for the laws of the United States. 

Then, on December 12, 2017, the defendant was arrested for sexually assaulting and attempting to rape a five year old child – a crime that would obviously not have been committed if the defendant had not violated the laws of this country. Ultimately, the defendant pleaded guilty to Gross Sexual Imposition and Kidnapping and was sentenced to 15 years incarceration on April 24, 2018.  Based upon his illegal presence in the United States, Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement placed a detainer on the defendant and an indictment was returned for Illegal Reentry of a removed alien after deportation.  On July 31, 2018, the defendant pleaded guilty and on November 14, 2018, defendant was sentenced to the statutory maximum 24 months to run consecutive to his state GSI/Kidnapping sentence.  He will again be deported after completion of both sentences.

U.S. v Jean Claude Phillip McKenzie

Defendant, who is a citizen of Jamaica, was admitted to the United States and granted conditional Lawful Permanent Residence status in 2008.  After serving a sentence for a 2010 Drug Trafficking conviction in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, McKenzie was deported to Jamaica in July 2012.

McKenzie, however, illegally returned to the U.S. and was again found in Cleveland after an officer heard gun shots that the officer thought were directed at him. The officer was taking a statement from an aggravated robbery victim at the time.  The officer further reported that the suspect fled in a black vehicle.  Other officers stopped McKenzie’s car, which was the only vehicle in the area that matched the description.  McKenzie stopped abruptly and fled on foot.  Once caught, he gave a false name.  A 9mm semiautomatic pistol was found in the defendant’s vehicle which had been reported stolen the year before.

Fingerprints taken from the defendant revealed his true identity and he ultimately pleaded guilty to Illegal Possession of a firearm by an illegal alien, and illegal reentry of a removed alien after deportation and was sentenced to 72 months in prison.  He will be deported upon completion of his sentence.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at https://www.justice.gov/history.

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