MS-13 gang member arrested in Eagle County finally deported
Oscar Antonio Rosas-Alas sent back to El Salvador to face aggravated extortion charges
March 1, 2019
EAGLE — A member of a notorious gang MS-13 has been deported after his arrest last year in Eagle County.
ICE deportation officers in Eagle County arrested Oscar Antonio Rosas-Alas, 23, on March 19, 2018. Federal immigration officials hung onto him in Denver until last week.
Agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Enforcement and Removal Operations put him on a plane with other deportees and sent him back to El Salvador to face aggravated extortion charges. according to a release from the Department of Homeland Security.
Rosas-Alas entered the United States illegally in 2016 near McAllen, Texas. Eventually, he made his way to Colorado and the Eagle County side of the Roaring Fork Valley.
Eagle County Sheriff's deputies found him in March 2018 hanging around the El Jebel baseball fields and arrested him. Someone called in a tip about some suspicious activity and it turned out Rosas-Alas had a fugitive of justice warrant out of El Salvador.
As he was being arrested, Rosas-Alas swung his left arm at a deputy and ran. Rosas-Alas tripped on the rocky ground after he vaulted over the outfield fence. The deputy chased him down, tackled him and handcuffed him.
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Interpol described Rosas-Allen as armed and dangerous, an escape risk and having violent tendencies. That Interpol warrant asserted that Rosas-Alas is associated with the Mara Salvatrucha gang, commonly referred to as MS-13.
Exception, not the norm
Area residents should be mindful but not hysterical about an MS-13 gang member being arrested in Eagle County, said David Pyrooz, a University of Colorado sociology professor and co-author of the book “Confronting Gangs: Crime and Community.”
"A guy like that doesn't just pop up randomly in a place like Vail," Pyrooz said. "That's the exception, not the norm."
It's reasonable for people to be concerned. It's also important to realize that their chance of being victimized by gang violence is extremely low, Pyrooz said. MS-13 activity tends to be concentrated in urban areas, but there are also plenty of rural areas that have gang activity.
"The concern would be next to nil to me. Gang violence is generally gang-on-gang. It's rare for the rest of the population to be targeted," Pyrooz said. "Almost the only time you have gang violence is when you have a rival gang."
The vast majority of gang members leave gangs – upwards of 90 percent, Pyrooz said. Destination vacation communities like the Vail Valley have a large number of people working lower-wage service jobs, and Rosas-Alas might have been one of those.
"It's possible Rosas-Alas went to Eagle County to turn his life around and escape the grip of the group," he said.
An ICE Air Operations charter flight took Rosas-Alas to Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport in San Salvador, El Salvador, where he was handed over to El Salvador's Policia Nacional Civil (PNC).
"Our ICE officers aggressively work to remove dangerous criminal aliens from the United States, such as Rosas-Alas," Jeffrey D. Lynch, field office director for ERO Denver said in a report. "ICE prioritizes removing known gang members and fugitive criminal aliens so they can face justice in their home country."
According to Colorado's criminal code, aggravated extortion is a felony in which someone is threatened, or their friends or relatives.
What is MS-13?
MS-13 is one of some 33,000 gangs that the FBI recognizes, and it accounts for just a fraction of the 1.4 million gang members nationwide, according to the National Gang Intelligence Center.
The Mara Salvatrucha gang originated in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s, created by Salvadoran immigrants after the country's civil wars. Salvadoran asylum seekers were refused legal entrance to the U.S., so they entered illegally.
MS-13 gang members tend to be among the most savage as they carry out racketeering, extortion, money laundering, prostitution, drug trafficking and other illegal activities. Besides rapes and kidnappings and violent assaults, MS-13 has been tied to some horrific murders, according to the National Gang Intelligence Center.
In 2017, the Washington Post reported that as many as 10 MS-13 members in Maryland lured a man into a park, stabbed him more than 100 times, decapitated him and cut out his heart. The Post also reported on an 18-year-old Virginia woman who confessed to killing a 15-year-old girl in retaliation for her boyfriend’s murder. The 18-year-old stabbed the younger girl 13 times and videotaped the murder to show to MS-13 higher-ups.
According to ICE data, the agency removed or returned 258,085 illegal immigrants in fiscal year 2018. Enforcement and Removal Operations arrested 158,581 illegal immigrants, 90 percent of whom had criminal convictions, pending criminal charges, or previously issued final orders. The overall arrest figure represents an 11 percent increase over fiscal year 2017.