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ERO New York City arrests international fugitive, MS-13 gang member wanted in El Salvador for murder

ERO New York City arrests international fugitive, MS-13 gang member wanted in El Salvador for murder

NEW YORK – On June 20, Enforcement and Removal Operations New York City arrested Melvin Orlando Hernandez Villanueva, an unlawfully present noncitizen wanted by Salvadoran authorities for prosecution on two counts of aggravated homicide and unlawful groups. Hernandez is the subject of an Interpol Red Notice for the crimes.

ERO Fugitive Operations officers from its Long Island office and members of the FBI’s Gang Task Force arrested the 27-year-old Salvadoran national and MS-13 gang member without incident near his residence in Queens pursuant to an arrest warrant and transferred him to Central Islip for processing. During the arrest, officers recovered a loaded handgun, a box of ammunition and a small amount of marijuana. Hernandez will remain in custody pending removal proceedings.

“This violent criminal and MS-13 gang member erroneously thought he could escape murder charges in El Salvador by sneaking into the United States and hiding out in New York City,” said ERO New York City Field Office Director Kenneth Genalo. “We will apprehend these international fugitives and repatriate them to their countries of origin to face justice. I am grateful for the courageous efforts and outstanding teamwork between my officers and our law enforcement partners for safely removing this dangerous individual from the community.”

On March 28, 2019, Salvadoran authorities issued an arrest warrant for Hernandez for two counts of aggravated homicide and unlawful groups.

On an unknown date and at an unknown location, Hernandez unlawfully entered the United States at a place not designated as a port of entry by the Attorney General of the United States or the Secretary of Homeland Security, thus he was not admitted, inspected or paroled into the United States by a U.S. immigration official.

On Oct. 2, 2023, Interpol issued a Red Notice indicating Hernandez is wanted by authorities in El Salvador for the aforementioned charges.

On Oct. 12, 2023, the FBI provided ERO New York City’s Long Island officers with information pertaining to Hernandez’s Interpol Red Notice.

“One cannot get away with murder, even when attempting to flee and hide in another country,” said FBI New York Field Office acting Assistant Director in Charge Christie M. Curtis. “Melvin Orlando Hernandez Villanueva, an MS-13 gang member, allegedly illegally lived in our city to evade El Salvadorian authorities and avoid facing retribution for his alleged murder charges. With the assistance of our law enforcement partners. This arrest reflects the FBI’s commitment to capturing fugitives and removing dangerous criminals from our neighborhoods.”

Noncitizens placed into removal proceedings receive their legal due process from federal immigration judges in the immigration courts, which are administered by the Executive Office for Immigration Review. EOIR is an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice and is separate from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigration judges in these courts make decisions based on the merits of each individual case. ICE officers carry out the removal decisions made by the federal immigration judges.

As one of ICE’s three operational directorates, ERO is the principal federal law enforcement authority in charge of domestic immigration enforcement. ERO’s mission is to protect the homeland through the arrest and removal of those who undermine the safety of U.S. communities and the integrity of U.S. immigration laws, and its primary areas of focus are interior enforcement operations, management of the agency’s detained and non-detained populations, and repatriation of noncitizens who have received final orders of removal. ERO’s workforce consists of more than 7,700 law enforcement and non-law enforcement support personnel across 25 domestic field offices and 208 locations nationwide, 30 overseas postings, and multiple temporary duty travel assignments along the border.

Members of the public can report crime and suspicious activity by calling 866-347-2423 or completing the online tip form.

Learn more about ERO New York City’s mission to preserve public safety on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @ERONewYork.

Originally published at

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