The man who escaped from immigration officials in Virginia this week and hid in the woods for hours has been deported from the United States five times.
Federal court documents show Marlo Danilo Rivas Mendez, 27, has been deported five times in the past decade: in December 2007, November 2011, May 2012, June 2014 and January 2016.
He appeared in federal court Wednesday afternoon and requested, through an interpreter, a lawyer. He wore the same tattered T-shirt and camouflage pants he was wearing when we was arrested Monday, and was expressionless.
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The El Salvador native was arrested in Loudoun County, Virginia, on Monday because he allegedly was drunk in public, the documents say. An immigration detainer on him was filed the same day.
Rivas Mendez was being transported from Loudoun County to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Fairfax County when he made his escape.
Two transportation officers with the private detention company Immigration Center of America were moving Rivas Mendez between the facilities.
During the drive, Rivas Mendez complained to the officers that the handcuffs on him were too tight, the court documents say.
They stopped the vehicle on Dulles Greenway in Sterling, Virginia, and opened a door. An officer loosened the handcuff around one of Rivas Mendez's wrists.
Then, he "struck" the officer and made a break for it, the documents say.
ICE, Virginia State Police, Fairfax and Loudoun county police and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority officers all hunted for Rivas-Mendez.
Video from Chopper4 showed the extensive search underway.
Finally, more than three hours after Rivas Mendez was taken into immigration officials' custody, he was found about four miles away, near Mercure Circle and Old Ox Road.
He was taken back into custody without incident, Loudoun County police say.
Rivas Mendez, who police previously called Marlon Carlos Rivas-Mendez, uses aliases, an ICE spokeswoman said.
In addition to facing consequences for escaping from the custody of an ICE transportation officer, Rivas-Mendez faces local charges of assault and battery.
Immigration Attorney Khalid Shekib said Rivas Mendez' case is rare. He said the majority of his clients pose no threat.
“They are not criminals, the majority of them. They have abided by the laws. They pay their taxes," he said.
Dr. Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies also said Rivas Mendez's case is not typical.
“We shouldn’t trivialize illegal immigration in general just because most illegal immigrants are not, say violent felons who’ve been previously deported like this guy," he said.
He said he does believe in strict punishments, though, for people who repeatedly enter the U.S. illegally.
“[If] you throw the book at those who come back after having previously been deported, you could get a lot less of it," Camarota said.
Federal sources tell News4 that repeated deportation is common among members of some gangs.
Rivas Mendez has not been linked to gang violence.