U.S. immigration authorities turned over to their counterparts south of the border a Mexican man wanted on the suspicion of killing seven people 20 years ago, before fleeing to the United States.
Heriberto Gómez Galicia, 62, and his two brothers allegedly murdered seven members of a family they had been feuding with, including an 8-year old child, and wounding four others, including a child who was 3 years old. The massacre took place in 1992 in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.
After receiving a tip in 2014 that Gómez Galicia might attempt to use his dead brother's identity to register a car in California, the U.S. Marshals Service was able to obtain a copy of the original arrest warrant from the Mexican Attorney General's Office. Gomez was arrested at his home in in the town of Watsonville, California, on November 16.
"For the victims in this case, justice has been a long time coming, but they can take consolation in the fact that the alleged assailant is now being held accountable," Timothy Aitken, field office director for the Enforcement and Removal Operations in San Francisco, said in a news release, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "Violent criminals who commit reprehensible crimes and believe they can evade justice by fleeing to the U.S. should be on notice — they will find no refuge here."
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security said that while they were unsure how Gómez Galicia entered the U.S., they know that he did so illegally.
Upon his arrest the man admitted he used four different aliases during his time in the U.S., which allowed him to illegally obtain work authorization and identification documents, including a California driver's license and a card allowing him to obtain Medi-Cal benefits, officials said.
Following his arrest in November, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials detained him as a flight and public safety risk and on April 16 a judge ordered that Gómez Galicia be sent back to Mexico. After his deportation, Gomez Galicia was handed over to the custody of representatives from the Mexican Attorney General's Office.