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Man wanted for Baja murder arrested in Salt Lake

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Saul Camargo-Avendano moments before being handed over to Mexican law enforcement officials Jan. 16 at the U.S.-Mexican border near San Diego. (ICE photo)

By Kimball Bennion

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jan 18 2013 10:25AM
Updated Jan 18, 2013 12:12PM

A Mexican national wanted for the murder of a Baja California city council member has been apprehended by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Salt Lake City, the federal agency reported Friday.

Saul Camargo-Avendano was arrested sometime in December by local police on an unspecified offense and handed over to ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers. Federal officials took Camargo-Avendano to San Diego, Calif., on Wednesday, where he was turned over to Mexican officials at the San Ysidro border crossing.

ICE records indicated that the 41-year-old was a possible suspect in a February 2011 homicide in Baja California, a Mexican state just south of the border with California. Ensenada city council member Arturo Castellanos-Ruiz was killed in connection to what local authorities believe was a labor dispute. Camaro-Avendano is one of seven people charged in connection to the murder and the second suspect to be apprehended.

A statement by Salt Lake City’s ICE acting field director, Thomas E. Freeley, praised the cooperation between local and federal authorities in netting the murder suspect.

"Had it not been for ERO officers working cooperatively with local jail authorities to screen inmates for immigration violations, this dangerous murder suspect would have been set free," Freeley said.

The federal agency’s Criminal Alien Program identifies deportable aliens incarcerated in jails and prisons throughout the country. Non-violent criminals who are in the country illegally are usually allowed to finish out their sentences or complete their criminal hearings, but ICE gives priority to arresting and deporting criminals deemed to be a security or public safety threat. The program has removed more than 500 foreign fugitives since October 2009.

kbennion@sltrib.com

Twitter: @KimballBennion

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