Suspect was deported - Cornelio Zamites may have re-entered U.S. after being ordered to leave in 2003

By Nikki Young, The Gainsville Times, June 28, 2005

The undocumented [illegal] East Hall resident charged with the murder of a 4-year-old girl may have re-entered the country illegally after being deported in 2003, immigration officials said Monday.

On June 23, 2003, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported a Cornelio Rivera Zamites of Gainesville who had been arrested for driving under the influence, said Sue Brown, a spokeswoman in the agency's Atlanta office.

In March 2001, Hall County Sheriff's deputies arrested a man by the same name for driving under the influence, speeding, no driver's license, failure to maintain lane and no proof of insurance, Times records show.

Brown said the man they deported likely is the same person sought in the death and molestation of Esmerelda Nava early Sunday near Talmo....

In the meantime, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are trying to find the 24-year-old whom they fear may be headed home to Vera Cruz, Mexico.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is responsible for deporting criminal undocumented immigrants [illegal aliens], but border patrol must be increased to make deportation effective, local officials said.

"If you don't do anything about the borders, it's kind of like an all-expense paid trip home to see loved ones before they come back," Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic said.

In 2004, the federal immigration agency deported 160,200 people, half of whom were criminals, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement statistics.

Yet some 700,000 illegal migrants cross the border annually, and the unauthorized American population is approaching 11 million, a nonprofit research organization, the Pew Hispanic Center, reported this month.

Cronic hopes Zamites will not become another murder suspect who fled the country to escape prosecution in Hall. The sheriff said the suspect is one of at least three immigrants [illegal aliens] who possibly left the country rather than face murder charges.

Son Van Nguyen, 48, is one who seems to have escaped. He was charged with the shooting deaths of Vien Hong Ngo and Thanh Phuong Thi Ngo on Green Crest Drive during Thanksgiving 2003.

Their bodies were found two days after the murder, leaving the suspect plenty of time to flee, Cronic said....

Upon arrest, local police agencies may check immigration status through Immigration and Customs Enforcement's national telecommunications system. They usually receive a response within 10 minutes.

The annual number of queries, about 603,000, has increased by 12 percent between 2003 and 2004.

But communication lapses between local agencies and immigration officials can let undocumented immigrants [illegal aliens] slip away, Brown said.

"We usually get them after they finish their local sentence," Brown said. "But sometimes we are not notified if they are released."

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