Border Patrol agents on Tuesday apprehended an individual illegally crossing the southern border who admitted past ties to a Colombian group previously designated as a terrorist organization, according to an internal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) memo exclusively obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Agents encountered Oscar De Leon-Ramirez on Feb. 6 among a group of eight Colombian and Salvadoran nationals in Texas’ El Paso sector, and shortly thereafter the National Targeting Center notified agents of the subject’s possible record of “terrorist activities,” according to the memo. During an interview with De Leon-Ramirez, the illegal immigrant admitted his previous role working for the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), a group that was previously designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
“During post-Miranda interview, De Leon-Ramirez readily admitted to having crossed the U.S./Mexico International Boundary illegally on today’s date (02/06/2024). Furthermore, De Leon-Ramirez admitted that in 2004/2005 he voluntarily admitted in the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC),” the memo read.
“De Leon-Ramirez stated that some of his duties as AUC member were to patrol the mountainous rural areas of Istmina, Colombia locating guerrilla members of the FARC (Fuerza Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) and other entities involved with extortion and trafficking in Colombia,” the memo added.
De Leon-Ramirez has pending criminal proceedings in the Western District Court of Texas, according to the memo.
The U.S. government designated the AUC as a foreign terrorist organization in 2001 and revoked the designation in 2014. The group disbanded in 2006, while some members split off into other groups to continue activities involving the drug trade and human rights abuses, according to the Congressional Research Service.
During its existence, the group “massacred and assassinated suspected supporters” of left-leaning guerrilla groups in Colombia, according to the Congressional Research Service.
“The border is open. Wide open. Don’t believe the media. Don’t believe the White House,” a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official told the DCNF on the condition of anonymity as they’re not authorized to speak publicly.
“Arm yourself, protect your homes and your families because this joke of an administration isn’t doing anything,” the official added.
Border Patrol agents apprehended 50 illegal immigrants on the terror watchlist between October and December: 172 in fiscal year 2023 and 98 in fiscal year 2022, according to CBP data. Between fiscal years 2017 and 2021, there were a total of 30 such encounters.
On Jan. 20, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers nabbed a member of the Somali terror group al-Shabaab, who authorities released shortly after he illegally crossed the southern border near San Ysidro, California on March 13, 2023, according to an internal federal memo recently obtained by the DCNF.
The Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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