Baltimore, Maryland - A 40-year-old Salvadoran who fled from El Salvador to evade criminal charges for attempted murder was removed Nov. 18 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

According to Salvadoran police reports, on Dec. 24, 2004, Rafael Antonio Vaquerano was drinking with the victim when an argument ensued. Vaquerano took out his weapon and fired one shot hitting the victim in the abdomen. The victim subsequently passed away.

Vaquerano, who illegally entered the United States in April 2005, was ordered removed in absentia by an immigration judge in September 2005. He failed to depart from the United States and instead went into hiding. ERO encountered Vaquerano Sept. 28, 2015, following an arrest by a local Maryland police department official.

ERO officials, who confirmed that Vaquerano was wanted in El Salvador based on an Interpol Red Notice, processed Vaquerano for removal from the United States.

“The United States will not be used as a safe haven by foreign criminals evading justice,” said Baltimore Field Office Director Dorothy Herrera Niles. “Our message to fugitives like Vaquerano is clear: It may take days, weeks or years, but we will catch up with you, and you will be held accountable.”

This removal was part of ERO’s Security Alliance for Fugitive Enforcement (SAFE) Initiative. The SAFE Initiative is geared toward the identification of foreign fugitives who are wanted abroad and removable under U.S. immigration law.

In just three years, through the SAFE Initiative, ERO has removed more than 600 criminal fugitives to El Salvador. Those removed as part of the SAFE Initiative have been deemed ineligible to remain in the United States and were all wanted by the Policia Nacional Civil (PNC).

SAFE aligns with ERO’s public safety priorities and eliminates the need for formal extradition requests.