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Homeland Security

13 July 2005

U.S. Agents Capture Fugitives from Mexico, El Salvador

Mexican fugitive known as his country's top public enemy

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – The capture by U.S. law enforcement agents of fugitives from Mexico and El Salvador demonstrates that violent criminals cannot use American borders to hide from justice in their own countries, according to the United States.

In a July 12 statement, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said it captured Arturo Montoya, 51, the previous day in Los Angeles, ending an international manhunt that spanned nearly two decades.

ICE, the investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said Montoya is known as Mexico's "Public Enemy Number One" for his role in a series of bloody bank robberies in Mexico City during the 1970s and 1980s.

Montoya, who was sought in Mexico on eight felony warrants -- including charges of murder, kidnapping and robbery -- had been at-large since his escape from a Mexican prison in 1986.  Montoya fled after a team of eight armed commandos showed up at the federal penitentiary where he was being held and used a hand grenade to blast a hole in the wall of the prison.

The U.S. agency said Montoya had undergone cosmetic surgery to alter his appearance.  ICE verified his identity through fingerprints.

Montoya subsequently was deported to Mexico, through close U.S. coordination with representatives from the Mexican attorney general's office.

Norma Bonales, ICE's acting deputy field office director for detention and removal operations in Los Angeles, said: "Our message to international fugitives" is that U.S. borders "will not be barriers to bringing violent criminals to justice. ICE is working closely with our law enforcement partners locally and around the globe to identify these individuals and take them off the streets."

ICE also announced it had arrested Jose Arnulfo-Quintanilla, a 38-year-old national of El Salvador convicted in the United States of causing bodily harm.

Arnulfo-Quintanilla had been on the run and in hiding since 2003, after a 2001 conviction in San Antonio, Texas, of assault that resulted in bodily injury.  For that crime, he received a 24-month probation sentence.  Under U.S. immigration law, a convicted criminal alien can be deported from the United States.

The Salvadoran was ordered removed from the United States in 2003, but chose to ignore the judge's order by remaining in the country.

Arnulfo-Quintanilla is being held at the South Texas Detention Center in Pearsall, Texas, pending his deportation to El Salvador.

The captures of Montoya and of Arnulfo-Quintanilla are part of a national ICE initiative to arrest and remove fugitives in hiding who have been ordered deported from the United States.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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