Man sought on rape charges in Fairfax is detained in Houston

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 7, 2011; 7:42 PM

A man wanted on rape charges in Fairfax County - who had been released from custody in Loudoun County a month before the assault because of a gap in immigration databases - was captured Sunday in Houston, Fairfax police said Monday.

Salvador Portillo-Saravia was being held in a Houston jail pending extradition to Fairfax. His case has highlighted flaws in the Secure Communities program, which is meant to keep dangerous illegal immigrants off the street.

Authorities said that Portillo-Saravia, 29, was a member of the street gang MS-13 and that he had been picked up by gang officers in Prince William County in 2003 and deported to El Salvador.

Portillo-Saravia sneaked back into the United States and was arrested again in Loudoun in November. Loudoun sheriff's deputies submitted his fingerprints through the Secure Communities program. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement database should have flagged him as having been deported, and he should have remained jailed.

But Portillo-Saravia's prints came back with a "no match." Charged only with the misdemeanor of being drunk in public, Portillo-Saravia was released after 12 hours in the Loudoun jail.

About a month later, on the day after Christmas, he was accused of raping an 8-year-old girl in her home in Centreville. A massive manhunt began.

When it was revealed last week that Portillo-Saravia had been in the Loudoun jail a month earlier, ICE disclosed that the fingerprints of many deportees obtained before 2005 had not been taken electronically and are not in the database. Participants in the Secure Communities program, which includes every jail in Virginia, said they were unaware that the database was not comprehensive.

ICE officials said they were reviewing their files to see how manually inked fingerprints can be scanned into the database used by the Secure Communities program. U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) sent a letter to ICE asking for a report on how the problem can be fixed.

Fairfax Police Officer Don Gotthardt said that agents with ICE in Washington and Houston, federal marshals and Fairfax detectives were involved in tracking and capturing Portillo-Saravia. He is charged with forcible rape and forcible sodomy in the Dec. 26 attack on the girl.

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