U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed an unlawfully present foreign fugitive from St. Paul last week who was wanted in Mexico for drug trafficking.
According to ICE, Benito Sanchez-Jimenez illegally entered the U.S. in 2001 and then again in 2007. He then legally entered in 2021 but failed to comply with the terms of his admission, ICE said.
He was arrested in September 2022 in Fargo, N.D., for stealing a vehicle. ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) St. Paul branch filed an immigration detainer for Sanchez-Jimenez, who was handed over to immigration authorities on Oct. 4.
A bill introduced by Democrats in the Minnesota House would make it illegal for state police officers to cooperate with immigration detainers.
Sanchez-Jimenez was held in the Kandiyohi County Jail in Willmar, Minn. ERO St. Paul confirmed in November that he was wanted in Mexico for drug trafficking and a judge approved a final order of removal in January.
Sanchez-Jimenez was transported on April 6 from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Nogales, Ariz., where he was transferred to Mexican authorities.
“By removing fugitive drug traffickers to their home country, ERO St. Paul plays a key role in keeping our communities safe,” said ERO St. Paul Field Office Director Peter Berg. “The negative effects drugs and drug traffickers have on our communities cannot be understated. ERO St. Paul will continue to collaborate with local, state and international law enforcement agencies to pursue dangerous individuals and organizations who infringe on our public safety.”
According to ICE, ERO arrested 46,396 noncitizens with criminal histories in fiscal year 2022. They had 198,498 associated charges and convictions, including 21,531 assault offenses, 8,164 sex and sexual assault offenses, 5,554 weapons offenses, 1,501 homicide-related offenses, and 1,114 kidnapping offenses.
The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Omaha Division, which includes Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota, announced in January that it seized nearly 4.7 million lethal doses of fentanyl in 2022 in the five-state region.
The DEA said most of the fentanyl in the U.S. is trafficked by the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which mass-produce the drug at secret factories in Mexico with chemicals sourced largely from China.
Minnesota reported a record number of drug overdoses in 2021, which the Department of Health attributed to the “rise in fentanyl.” Statistics for 2022 haven’t been released yet.