Tijuana Case Highlights Dangers of US Criminal Deportations

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The United States freed and deported around 20 Mexican criminals who went on to murder at least 12 people, illustrating a troubling long-term trend and leading the Baja California state government in Mexico to call for urgent action.

The criminals were returned to the border city of Tijuana without Mexican authorities being informed they were dangerous, reported Milenio. They then committed a series of killings between January and June of this year.

Milenio described one case in which three deported criminals opened fire on a customer at a bar immediately after being released in January. In another case in February a released known drug addict killed his parents with a hammer.

The government of Baja California called on Mexico’s Foreign Secretary to make an “urgent and immediate” intervention to ensure that dangerous criminals are specifically marked as such on lists of people being deported from jails.

Baja California’s Attorney General Rommel Moreno claimed the US was deporting criminals just to save money. Criminals had been deported without any notification for up to three weeks afterwards, he said.

InSight Crime Analysis

Huge numbers of convicted criminals are deported from the US to Mexico every year, with the number rising sharply between 2008 and 2010 (the most recent year for which figures are available) — from just under 80,000 to around 145,000. This compares to a total of 129,726 convicted criminals deported to the whole of Central America between 2001 and 2010. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s 2011 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, 188,000 “known criminal aliens” were removed from the US in 2011, an all-time high. [See graphics below for a breakdown of the region.]

Similar complaints have been voiced for years from other border cities in Mexico and other governments in the region, particularly those from the so-called Northern Triangle — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The triangle has received thousands of ex-convicts, including many gang members, who have helped give rise to the gang violence that has contributed to making the region the most violent in the world. 

SEE ALSO: Gangs, Deportation and Violence in Central America

With so many criminal deportations taking place, good communication between the US and Mexican authorities is vital. Monitoring of risky ex-convicts following release is a key part of an efficient justice system. If dangerous criminals and petty felons are indeed being lumped together in one long list of names, as alleged by Baja California’s government, it is impossible for Mexican authorities to carry out such surveillance.

Criminal Deportations US numbersCriminal Deportations US percentage




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