Convicted felon with ties to slaying of DEA agent ‘Kiki’ Camarena removed from U.S.

Local

Courtesy of Immigration Customs and Enforcement

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Immigration authorities removed a man tied to the murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Salazar from the U.S.

Juan Jose Bernabe Ramirez, 62, was removed through the Downtown Paso del Norte International Bridge this week. Immigration Customs and Enforcement said Bernabe is still considered a threat to public safety due to his criminal history.

Bernabe had been in U.S. custody after overstaying a non-immigrant visitor visa in Los Angeles in 1989. He was arrested on July 27 that year by Drug Enforcement agents due to his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of Camarena.

A federal court convicted Bernabe in 1990 for violent crimes in aid of racketeering, aiding and abetting and accessory after the fact. He was also convicted of kidnapping a federal agent aiding and abetting and sentenced to life in prison.

He served 10 years in prison for each charge, according to court records.

Bernabe pleaded guilty to racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations conspiracy in the first superseding information in December 2020, according to court documents. He had served 31 years in prison in connection to Camarena’s kidnapping and murder.

He and his legal team argued he’d made strides to improve his character with education and rehabilitation. He earned his GED while in custody, completed drug treatment and made himself available for educational opportunities, court documents stated.

At the Federal Correctional Institution in Salters, S.C., Bernabe worked as an orderly in the chapel and as a photographer.

While in jail, ICE filed a detainer on Bernabe so that if he was ever released, he’d be transferred to their custody for being in the country without permission.

In December, ICE’s enforcement and removal operations office notified Bernabe that he would be removed from the country due to his aggravated felony history.

“The gruesome nature of this case is extremely unsettling,” Denice Seemiller, acting field office director for ERO Salt Lake City. “Our dedicated officers diligently worked on making all the necessary arrangements to ensure Bernabe’s removal was seamless.”

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