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Venezuelan Arrested for Carrying Machete, Butcher’s Knife at U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol Police Photo, December 26, 2023.
U.S. Capitol Police Photo, December 26, 2023.

By: Bethany Blankley | The Center Square

A Venezuelan man who illegally entered the U.S. was arrested after wielding a machete and knife in the U.S. Capitol building the day after Christmas. He is being processed for removal.

Jose Leonardo Marquez-Marquez, a 23-year-old Venezuelan national, was arrested by U.S. Capitol Police on Dec. 26 for carrying a machete, a butcher’s knife and a brick at the U.S. Capitol. He was charged with carrying a dangerous weapon and possessing a prohibited weapon.

He was taken into custody the next day by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ICE ERO) agents in Washington, D.C.

“Jose Leonardo Marquez-Marquez posed a significant threat to people in and around the U.S. Capitol,” ICE ERO Washington, D.C. acting Field Office Director Patrick Divver said in a statement. “Thanks to our law enforcement partners at the U.S. Capitol Police, this threat was mitigated quickly. Fortunately, Marquez is currently in ERO custody and will face removal proceedings.”

Marquez “unlawfully entered the United States on an unknown date, at an unknown location and without being admitted, inspected, or paroled by an immigration official,” ICE said. Border patrol considers him a gotaway – a foreign national who illegally entered the U.S. between a port of entry, intentionally to evade capture by law enforcement. Roughly 1.7 million gotaways have been reported since January 2021, The Center Square first reported. Former Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz previously testified before Congress that gotaways are underreported by between 10% and 20%; officials don’t know who they are, how many or where they are.

After Marquez illegally entered, Border Patrol agents in the El Paso region of Texas arrested him on Aug. 21, 2022. The next day, he was released “on Alternatives to Detention due to a lack of detention capacity,” ICE said.

Two months later, he reported to ICE-ERO officials in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 5, 2023, and was issued a notice to appear before a Department of Justice immigration judge.

On Dec. 27, 2023, ICE ERO-Washington, D.C., agents lodged an immigration detainer – notice of action, against him with the U.S. Marshals Service in Washington, D.C. Later that day, he was transferred into ICE-ERO custody in Washington, D.C., and remains in custody as he awaits removal proceedings.

He is among an untold number of people who illegally entered the U.S. and once caught were released into the United States by Border Patrol agents only to later be arrested for committing a crime, as The Center Square has previously reported.

Other recent ICE ERO removals include a Chilean military officer wanted for kidnapping and murder; a Brazilian fugitive wanted for raping a child; Guatemalans wanted for murder and rape; an MS-13 gang member on El Salvador’s Top 100 list; and a Brazilian military officer involved in a 2015 massacre.

They also include hundreds in recent operations with criminal convictions for certain felonies or other crimes including “murder for hire, manslaughter, sex crimes against children, assault with a firearm, battery, domestic violence, drug trafficking, possession of a controlled substance and driving under the influence,” and determined “to be a threat to national security, public safety or border security.”

In fiscal year 2022, ICE ERO agents arrested 46,396 illegal foreign nationals with criminal histories including 198,498 associated charges and convictions. The charges and convictions include 21,531 assault offenses; 8,164 sex and sexual assault offenses; 5,554 weapons offenses; 1,501 homicide-related offenses; and 1,114 kidnapping offenses.

In fiscal year 2022, ICE ERO agents also conducted 72,177 removals to over 150 countries.

Fiscal 2023 numbers have not yet been published.

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