PHILADELPHIA — ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Philadelphia removed Felipe Javier Rivero Blanco, a citizen of Venezuela with a final order of removal, to Venezuela on Dec. 1. Rivero was convicted of statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault of a person less than 16 years of age, and 10 counts related to child sexual abuse material. He is a former professional baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization who played under the alias Felipe Vazquez.
On June 1, 2017, U.S. Customs and Border Protection admitted Rivero to the United States in Miami, Florida. Pennsylvania State Police arrested him for statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors, and indecent assault of a person less than 16 years of age on Sep. 17, 2019.
The Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County convicted Rivero of statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor-sexual offenses, corruption of minors, indecent assault of a person less than 16 years of age, and 10 counts related to child sexual abuse material and sentenced him to two years of incarceration on Aug. 17, 2021.
In November 2021, ERO Philadelphia encountered Rivero at the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institute Smithfield in Huntingdon and lodged an immigration detainer notice of action with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
On May 31, 2023, an immigration judge with the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in Cleveland, Ohio, ordered Rivero removed from the United States to Venezuela. Rivero waived his right to appeal.
ERO Philadelphia took custody of Rivero and detained him at the Moshannon Valley Processing Center in Philipsburg on Sept. 20, 2023.
ERO conducts removals of individuals without a lawful basis to remain in the United States, including at the order of immigration judges with EOIR. EOIR is a separate entity from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Immigration judges in these courts make decisions based on the merits of each individual case, determining if a noncitizen is subject to a final order of removal or eligible for certain forms of relief from removal.
As one of ICE’s three operational directorates, ERO is the principal federal law enforcement authority in charge of domestic immigration enforcement. ERO’s mission is to protect the homeland through the arrest and removal of those who undermine the safety of U.S. communities and the integrity of U.S. immigration laws, and its primary areas of focus are interior enforcement operations, management of the agency’s detained and non-detained populations, and repatriation of noncitizens who have received final orders of removal. ERO’s workforce consists of more than 7,700 law enforcement and non-law enforcement support personnel across 25 domestic field offices and 208 locations nationwide, 30 overseas postings, and multiple temporary duty travel assignments along the border. Members of the public can report crimes or suspicious activity by calling 866-347-2423 or completing ICE’s online tip form.
Learn more about ERO’s mission to increase public safety in your community on X, formerly known as Twitter, @EROPhiladelphia.