Enforcement and Removal Operation (ERO) Philadelphia removed Harby Rigoberto Vargas-Sanchez, a Honduran citizen with a final order of removal, to Honduras on a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Air Operations charter aircraft May 26. Vargas-Sanchez is a foreign fugitive wanted by law enforcement authorities in Honduras for illegal drug trafficking.
“This case demonstrates the cooperation between the U.S. and its allies in bringing drug traffickers to justice,” said ERO Philadelphia Field Office Director Cammilla Wamsley. “The scourge of the narcotics trade affects all countries and ERO is proud to be on the frontlines of this fight.”
Vargas-Sanchez was wanted in the United States to stand trial in the Southern District of Florida for felony drug trafficking offenses. He was extradited to the United States by the U.S. Marshals Service on March 11, 2020, and was paroled into the country by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
On Feb. 3, 2021, Vargas-Sanchez was convicted for conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine knowing it would be imported into the United States and sentenced to 65 months’ imprisonment.
ERO New York City arrested Vargas-Sanchez at the Otisville Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, New York, on March 24, 2023, and served him with a notice and order of expedited removal, charging inadmissibility pursuant to Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. On the same date, ERO New York City transferred Vargas-Sanchez to ERO Philadelphia at the Moshannon Valley Processing Center in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, for removal.
Noncitizens placed into removal proceedings receive their legal due process from federal immigration judges in the immigration courts, which are administered by the Executive Office for Immigration Review within the Department of Justice. EOIR is a separate entity from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Immigration judges in these courts make decisions based on the merits of each individual case, determining if a noncitizen is subject to a final order of removal or eligible for certain forms of relief from removal. Once a noncitizen is subject to a final order of removal issued by an immigration judge or other lawful means, ICE officers may carry out the removal.
As one of ICE’s three operational directorates, ERO is the principal federal law enforcement authority in charge of domestic immigration enforcement. ERO’s mission is to protect the homeland through the arrest and removal of those who undermine the safety of U.S. communities and the integrity of U.S. immigration laws, and its primary areas of focus are interior enforcement operations, management of the agency’s detained and non-detained populations, and repatriation of noncitizens who have received final orders of removal.
ERO’s workforce consists of more than 7,700 law enforcement and non-law enforcement support personnel across 25 domestic field offices and 208 locations nationwide, 30 overseas postings, and multiple temporary duty travel assignments along the border.