Sanc­tu­ary shields gang mem­bers linked to killings

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Pros­e­cu­tors an­nounced a sec­ond sanc­tu­ary city-re­lated homi­cide case in­volv­ing an il­le­gal im­mi­grant in the Seat­tle area, but that has yet to shake lo­cal of­fi­cials who, de­spite the bru­tal­ity of the slay­ings, say they are not ready to be­gin work­ing with ICE.

The homi­cide was par­tic­u­larly vi­cious. Po­lice said Car­los Or­lando Ira­heta-Vega, an MS-13 gang mem­ber, bashed his 16-year-old friend’s head with a base­ball bat.

He then as­sisted as an­other con­fed­er­ate took a ma­chete to the boy’s body, chop­ping off an arm and a leg and hack­ing at his neck.

U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment says if lo­cal au­thor­i­ties had co­op­er­ated with the fed­eral agency, then Mr. Ira­heta-Vega — who goes by the nick­name “Joker” — could have been de­ported af­ter an ar­rest last Novem­ber.

But King County re­fused to no­tify ICE that Mr. Ira­heta-Vega was be­ing re­leased from jail and in­stead freed him into the com­mu­nity. He would have more run-ins with the law and es­cape ICE’s clutches each time un­til his ar­rest on sus­pi­cion of mur­der.

That was af­ter the ar­rest of yet an­other il­le­gal im­mi­grant, Car­los Daniel Car­il­loLopez, who was shielded mul­ti­ple times from de­por­ta­tion this year and now stands ac­cused of be­ing part of a mur­der posse that killed a teen af­ter his girl­friend posted an on­line photo of her­self mak­ing signs for a ri­val gang.

Se­cu­rity spe­cial­ists say both cases are at the crux of the de­bate over il­le­gal im­mi­grant crimes in sanc­tu­ary cities.

Both Mr. Ira­heta-Vega and Mr. Car­illo-Lopez sneaked into the U.S. as ju­ve­niles and were deemed un­ac­com­pa­nied alien chil­dren, which qual­i­fied them for le­nient treat­ment un­der Amer­i­can law, in­clud­ing quick re­lease to spon­sors in the com­mu­nity.

Both made their way to the Seat­tle area, where, po­lice say, they hooked up with transna­tional crim­i­nal gangs that in­creas­ingly rely on il­le­gal im­mi­grant teens to boost their ranks. They built their own crim­i­nal records while be­ing shielded from de­por­ta­tion by lib­eral lo­cal gov­ern­ments’ non­co­op­er­a­tion poli­cies.

“This sce­nario, where sanc­tu­ary poli­cies shield crim­i­nal aliens who prey on peo­ple in the com­mu­nity from im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment, is be­com­ing all too com­mon,” said Tanya Ro­man, a spokes­woman for ICE. “As Ira­heta-Vega’s crimes in­creased in sever­ity, lo­cal of­fi­cials chose to re­lease him, time and time again, with­out no­ti­fi­ca­tion to ICE, a sim­ple process that could have po­ten­tially pre­vented this crime.”

Po­lice de­scribed a hor­ri­fy­ing scene of death in the crime that Mr. Ira­heta-Vega now stands ac­cused of com­mit­ting.

The body of 16-year-old Juan Car­los Con Guz­man had been bashed with a bat, then chopped to pieces with a ma­chete. De­tec­tives found one of his arms and one of his legs sev­ered and ly­ing away from the body, and also found signs that some­one had hacked away at his neck.

Po­lice say Mr. Ira­heta-Vega, 20, ad­mit­ted to the killing. He he had ar­ranged to fight Juan Car­los but some­where along the way he and a fel­low MS-13 con­fed­er­ate, nick­named “In­ferno,” de­cided to kill him in­stead.

“The de­fen­dants beat the vic­tim with a base­ball bat and mer­ci­lessly chopped his neck re­peat­edly with a ma­chete be­fore dis­mem­ber­ing the body,” pros­e­cut­ing at­tor­ney Mary H. Bar­bosa told a judge. “The ex­tra­or­di­nary bru­tal­ity of this crime demon­strates the threat the de­fen­dants pose to the com­mu­nity.” In the case of Mr. Car­illo-Lopez, po­lice say, he was part of a group of Surenos gang mem­bers who went look­ing to fight a boy who had been a friend. They feuded af­ter the boy’s girl­friend posted pho­tos on­line sug­gest­ing fealty to the ri­val 18th Street gang.

ICE said Mr. Car­il­loLopez had mul­ti­ple runins with po­lice be­fore and af­ter the April killing he now stands ac­cused of com­mit­ting, yet each time lo­cal au­thor­i­ties re­fused re­quests to no­tify de­por­ta­tion agents of his re­lease.

In Mr. Ira­heta-Lopez’s case, he was ar­rested by the Kent Po­lice Depart­ment on Nov. 8 for steal­ing a car and ICE placed a de­tainer re­quest on him. It was ig­nored.

De­tain­ers are re­quests that de­por­ta­tion tar­gets be held for pickup or, at the least, that ICE be no­ti­fied of an im­pend­ing re­lease so it can have some­one on hand to take cus­tody.

The first ar­rest was fol­lowed five days later by a drunken-driv­ing ar­rest and an­other DUI ar­rest this sum­mer. In both cases, ICE says, he was re­leased be­fore their of­fi­cers could en­counter him.

The two homi­cides have not sparked much soul-search­ing among Seat­tle of­fi­cials.

A num­ber of law en­force­ment and elected of­fi­cials ig­nored re­quests for com­ment from The Wash­ing­ton Times. King County Ex­ec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine re­leased a state­ment af­ter the Car­illo-Lopez case in which he blasted ICE for “seek­ing to sow fear and di­vi­sion for po­lit­i­cal gain.”

“ICE is now on a pub­lic re­la­tions of­fen­sive against ju­ris­dic­tions that fol­low the rule of law, alert­ing the me­dia to in­stances when agents send civil im­mi­gra­tion de­tain­ers that are pro­hib­ited by county pol­icy,” he said in his state­ment.

He said the county would com­ply if ICE ob­tains a war­rant signed by a judge; oth­er­wise, of­fi­cials will con­tinue to re­ject re­quests to help fa­cil­i­tate de­por­ta­tions.

“To be clear, we do not hold peo­ple against their will in our de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties un­less or­dered to do so by a judge. We will con­tinue to honor the Con­sti­tu­tion, rather than the ex­tra­ju­di­cial or­ders of any per­son, in­clud­ing the pres­i­dent,” Mr. Con­stan­tine said.

Mr. Con­stan­tine did not re­spond to a fol­low-up in­quiry af­ter the Ira­heta-Lopez charges.

ICE says Mr. Con­stan­tine is in­ten­tion­ally mis­lead­ing the pub­lic about the im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem.

“They know full well NO such war­rant ex­ists for im­mi­gra­tion pur­poses,” said Nathalie Asher, direc­tor of re­moval oper­a­tions at ICE’s Seat­tle field of­fice.

Be­sides, she said, King County doesn’t need a war­rant to no­tify ICE when it’s about to re­lease some­one, yet the county re­fuses that step, too.

“King County’s will­ful re­fusal of ICE war­rants only pro­tects those who harm the com­mu­nity,” she said.

“This sce­nario, where sanc­tu­ary poli­cies shield crim­i­nal aliens who prey on peo­ple in the com­mu­nity from im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment, is be­com­ing all too com­mon.” — Tanya Ro­man, ICE

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