COLUMBUS, NEW MEXICO – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the Columbus port of entry Monday took custody of a man being sought on homicide charges in New Mexico. CBP officers arrested 36-year-old Fernando Lopez Villegas of Portales at approximately 12:05 p.m. after he entered the U.S. from Mexico to surrender to New Mexico law enforcement officers.
CBP officers were notified by New Mexico State Police that Lopez was expected to arrive at the port of entry Monday afternoon to surrender. He was being sought in connection with a shooting death that occurred in Carlsbad earlier this month. When Lopez arrived, CBP officers confirmed his identity using the Automated Fingerprint Index System (IAFIS). Because Lopez is a citizen of Mexico with no legal entry documents, CBP officers prepared paperwork to ensure that Lopez would be returned to CBP to face formal removal proceedings following the conclusion of legal matters connected to the homicide charges. CBP officers then turned Lopez over to New Mexico State Police officers who were waiting for Lopez to arrive at the Columbus crossing.
“This case was somewhat unusual because the man surrendered to CBP officers. In most fugitive cases, CBP officers identify the suspect through a thorough inspection process and interview,” said Charles Wright, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Columbus Port Director. “Fugitive apprehensions are another way CBP is protecting America and keeping our communities safe.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers’ primary mission is anti-terrorism; they screen all people, vehicles, and goods entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel into and out of the United States. Their mission also includes carrying out traditional border-related responsibilities, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration law, protecting the nation’s food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases, and enforcing trade laws.