Madrid, Spain - A Dominican-born Spanish citizen, who fled from Spain to New York after she was sentenced to serve six years in prison for drug trafficking, was removed April 14 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers in New York City.
Fiordaliza Gomez Heredia, 40, was turned over to Spanish law enforcement upon her arrival at Madrid-Barajas airport in Madrid, Spain. According to Spanish police authorities, a drug trafficking investigation that began in 2006 led to the execution of a search warrant May 5, 2007, at Heredia’s home. During the search of her home, law enforcement discovered several packages of cocaine. Heredia subsequently admitted to her involvement in drug trafficking and was sentenced March 6, 2012, to six years imprisonment.
Heredia, who was scheduled to begin her prison term May 23, 2012, didn’t report to authorities as required Instead, she fled to the United States to avoid serving her sentence.
On May 27, 2012, Heredia entered the United States lawfully under the Visa Waiver Program. The Spanish government subsequently issued a warrant for her arrest Dec. 30, 2014, via an Interpol red notice. On March 17, 2015, an ICE Interpol liaison contacted the New York ERO Fugitive Operations Team with details about Heredia’s outstanding warrant and possible whereabouts. The following day, March 18, ERO’s New York Fugitive Operations Team located and arrested Heredia for violating the terms of her visa.
“This case illustrates ERO’s commitment to identifying and arresting fugitives sought by foreign governments,” said Christopher Shanahan ERO Field Office Director in New York. “We’re glad that Heredia is back in Spain to account for her actions and to serve the time ordered by the courts.”
Since October 2009, ERO has removed more than 900 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ERO works with ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Office of International Operations, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.
In fiscal year 2014, ERO removed 315,943 individuals from the United States. In addition to convicted criminals, the agency's enforcement priorities include those apprehended while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States, illegal re-entrants – individuals who returned to the United States after being previously removed by ICE - and immigration fugitives. In fiscal year 2014, 98 percent of ICE removals met these priorities.