Fairfax rapist, whose arrest exposed immigration data gap, pleads guilty

July 26, 2012

The man who illegally reentered the country and raped an eight-year-old Fairfax County girl in 2010, exposing a large gap in federal immigration databases, pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal immigration violation, though he is already serving a 25-year prison sentence for the rape.

Salvador Portillo-Saravia, 30, a native of El Salvador and a member of the Mara Salvatrucha street gang, entered the country illegally in 2000 and was deported in 2003, immigration officials said. But his fingerprints, taken with rolled ink on a file card in 2003, were not entered into the national IDENT computer database.

Portillo-Saravia was picked up by Loudoun County sheriff’s deputies in November 2010 for being drunk in public. But when he was run through the national Secure Communities database, no red flag was raised for his previous deportation, and he was released. The sexual assault occurred a month later.

The Washington Post revealed in January 2011, while Portillo-Saravia was still at large, that most fingerprints taken before 2005 were done the old-fashioned ink-rolled way, and an unknown number of the 751,000 people deported from 2001 to 2005 were not in the IDENT database.

Earlier this year, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chair of the House subcommittee that oversees the Justice Department, successfully allocated $5 million for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to begin digitizing the paper fingerprint files.

Portillo-Saravia was arrested in Houston in February 2011. He was found guilty in Fairfax County Circuit Court of rape and sodomy of a child under 13 years old, and in February 2012 he was given a 50-year total sentence on the two counts, with 25 years suspended.

Portillo-Saravia was then turned over to federal authorities, and he pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of illegally reentering the country after deportation. He faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison at his sentencing on August 31.

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