Officials: Rape suspect had been caught entering U.S. illegally

Philadelphia police Capt. John Darby, head of the Special Victims Unit, announces the arrest of Milton Mateo-Garcia (pictured on the monitor), 28, a Honduran immigrant living on the 1800 block of S. 8th St., in connection with the Rittenhouse Square rapist case.
Philadelphia police Capt. John Darby, head of the Special Victims Unit, announces the arrest of Milton Mateo-Garcia (pictured on the monitor), 28, a Honduran immigrant living on the 1800 block of S. 8th St., in connection with the Rittenhouse Square rapist case. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 27, 2014

The man charged with raping a woman in her Rittenhouse Square apartment last weekend was caught illegally entering the country from Mexico last year, according to customs officials.

No criminal charges were filed against Milton Mateo Garcia at the time, records show. Garcia, whom federal authorities identified as Milton Garcia-Vazquez, is from Honduras and was deported in June 2013, said Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

It is unclear when Garcia returned to the United States, but until this week he had worked in the kitchens of three local restaurants for several months. Tashan, an Indian restaurant on Broad Street, released a statement saying Garcia had presented all required documents before he was hired as a part-time employee.

Philadelphia police sought charges against Garcia this week of rape, burglary, and other offenses. They say he forced a 26-year-old woman into her apartment at 19th and Spruce Streets and assaulted her.

ICE officials have lodged a detainer against Garcia, which allows the agency to take him into custody once local authorities are done with him.

When illegal immigrants are first caught illegally entering the country, border agents generally fingerprint them, warn that they will face prison if they return illegally, and send them to their home country. Those from Mexico are usually escorted across the border. Those from Honduras and other countries usually are flown home.

Illegal reentry, which can carry a two-year prison sentence, has become the most commonly recorded lead charge in the federal court system, with nearly 40,000 prosecutions each year, records show.


asteele@phillynews.com

610-313-8113

@AESteele

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