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FUGITIVE NABBED IN PALMDALE MURDER SUSPECT IN MEXICO HIDING IN U.S.

Byline: Charles F. Bostwick Staff Writer

PALMDALE - A landscaper arrested by federal immigration agents at his Palmdale home is suspected of shooting a man to death in Mexico two years ago during an argument over goats trespassing on a relative's property.

Miguel Garcia-Chavez, 49, was located through a lead from Border Patrol agents in Temecula, who learned he might be in the Los Angeles area and possibly in Palmdale, federal officials said.

``The old stereotype is of people who commit crimes in the United States and flee south of the border,'' Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said Friday. ``We're encountering a growing number of international fugitives, including from Mexico, who try to seek refuge in the United States.''

Federal agents and Palmdale sheriff's deputies were waiting Thursday night outside Garcia-Chavez's Division Street house when he arrived home. He was arrested without incident, officials said.

Garcia-Chavez was the 13th Mexican murder suspect arrested in the last 10 months by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's fugitive operations team in Los Angeles.

Last month, the team arrested an escaped Mexican convict wanted for a string of violent Mexican bank robberies in the 1970s and 1980s. He was quietly running a janitorial service in South Gate.

Garcia-Chavez is a legal permanent resident of the United States, but he has a 2002 American conviction for spousal battery that makes him subject to deportation as a criminal alien under federal law, Kice said.

Garcia-Chavez was arrested Thursday night on suspicion of an immigration violation for his spousal battery conviction, Kice said. He has the right to go before an immigration judge to contest his deportation, she said.

Garcia-Chavez is also named in a first-degree murder warrant in the June 2003 killing of a man in the Mexican state of Jalisco, from which thousands of immigrants have come to Southern California.

Mexican authorities told U.S. officials that Garcia-Chavez got into an argument in the rural town of Tamazula de Gordiano with a man over a goat herd that was reportedly trespassing on property belonging to Garcia-Chavez's relative. Garcia-Chavez shot the man, then drove off in the man's truck, Mexican authorities said.

``We will not allow our borders to be barriers to bringing international fugitives to justice,'' Gloria Kee, field office director for ICE detention and removal operations in Los Angeles, said in an announcement of Garcia- Chavez's arrest. ``ICE is working with its law enforcement partners here and around the globe to identify these individuals and take them off the streets.''

Charles F. Bostwick, (661) 267-5742

chuck.bostwick(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 6, 2005
Words:427
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