When undocumented immigrants are detained by federal authorities, they have usually just arrived at an airport, the beach or on the street. Others are picked up at a house or apartment after agents check their papers and discover that they have overstayed their visas, crossed the border illegally or been previously deported.
But how Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents found Honduran Lesvin David Giron-Rodriguez on Dec. 10 in Miami Beach makes this case intriguing.
Federal immigration officials learned that Giron was illegally in the country only after a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer seized a package and found the Honduran’s passport inside. Giron was nowhere near the site where the passport was seized.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said it could not comment on the case, but the agency said it works closely with CBP on certain cases.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) works very closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to interdict contraband and other prohibited items from entering our commerce at ports of entry, to include airports, seaports, land-borders and international mail facilities, to protect the homeland,” Robert Hutchinson, HSI Miami deputy special agent in charge, said in a statement. “All inbound and outbound shipments are subject to customs inspection to ensure adherence to numerous laws, rules, regulations and treaties. HSI regularly conducts investigations to further disrupt smuggling ventures and dismantle criminal organizations using international mail services.”
Giron’s attorney declined to comment.
But Wilfredo Allen , a prominent Miami immigration attorney, said the circumstances in the Giron case are unusual.
“It is not very common at all,” said Allen.
Nevertheless, Allen recalled representing a client in a somewhat similar case almost 10 years ago involving the passport of an Ecuadorean woman who was not legally in the country.
Allen said that in her case, her passport was found by immigration officials in a facility that handles packages for private sipping services, such as FedEx and DHL.
And in 2010, three Guatemalans illegally in the country were arrested by immigration officials at a FedEx facility in Riviera Beach in Palm Beach County, where they were hoping to pick up a package with passports sent by the Guatemalan consulate in Miami.
In all the cases, the discoveries of the passports appear to have been the result of random checks of packages, which seems to have been the case with Giron’s passport.
When CBP officers, who routinely inspect packages and goods arriving from abroad, found Giron’s passport Sept. 12 at an unspecified “foreign mail facility,” they decided to check the recipient’s background, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court by an HSI agent.
The complaint did not provide the location of the “foreign mail facility,” but it appeared to be a reference to a site where CBP examines parcels arriving from abroad.
“After records checked that the defendant had previously been deported from the United States, CBP turned the passport over to me,” wrote the HSI agent in the complaint. HSI is an ICE unit.
Giron had been deported in 2012, but managed to return to the United States illegally. Previously deported foreign nationals who return illegally are high-priority targets for ICE along with criminal convicts and immigration fugitives.
During further investigation, the agent located Giron at an address in Miami Beach where HSI agents arrested him Dec. 10.
No one answered the door at the location, an apartment in a two-story green building near the corner of Alton Road and 13th Street.