Convicted rapist from Honduras sentenced in illegal re-entry case

Steve Tawa
February 26, 2019 - 3:01 pm
Juan Ramon-Vasquez

Philadelphia Police Department

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Honduran man has been sentenced after pleading guilty last August to illegal re-entry following deportation. Federal authorities, however, argue he should have been removed from the U.S. well before he raped a young girl.

Although he was deported in 2009, Juan Ramon-Vasquez was found back in the U.S. in 2014 by the U.S. Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, after he was arrested on aggravated assault charges. 

But the Upper Darby man was released, after the City of Philadelphia refused to honor an ICE request to hold the undocumented immigrant.

"The facts of this case illustrate all too well the direct threat to public safety caused by Philadelphia’s sanctuary city policies," said U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain. Ramon-Vasquez went on to repeatedly rape his girlfriend's young daughter. 

"He remained undetected by ICE until later in 2016," added federal prosecutor Josh Davidson, "as a result of the tragic circumstances of this 5-year-old girl being raped for 18 months."

RELATED: At least 245 children separated from family at border since June

The defendant was re-arrested a year-and-a-half later. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 2017. He is now serving eight to 20 years in state prison for raping the child.

Assistant federal defender Mythri Jayaraman said Ramon-Vasquez is remorseful. In prison, he is learning English, including by reading the Bible, and taking Spanish lessons, so that he can learn to write and contact his five children in Honduras.

"He's been learning about how to change his life," Jayaraman added.

The now 50-year-old man, who grew up on an impoverished farm in a family with 11 children, has fourth-grade education. Through an interpreter, Ramon-Vasquez told the judge, "I've committed a serious crime, and for that there's no remedy. The way I live, think and act has changed. Thank God, I've learned so much."

Judge Nitza Quinones Alejandro then sentenced him to 21 months in a federal prison, after he serves his state sentence. After he serves both sentences, he will be sent back to Honduras.

City officials responded that they would have handed over Ramon-Vasquez to federal immigration authorities if there was a request for an ICE detainer, along with a signed arrest warrant from a judge.