Suspected MS-13 killers were set for custody but state refused to hand them over to ICE

Your tax money hard at work, proving that there are consequences for illegal actions. No wonder those caravans keep coming North.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement says uncooperative law enforcement officers in Prince George’s County, Md., are partially to blame for the murder of a 14-year-old girl whose alleged killers were supposed to be turned over for deportation but local officials refused to do so because of the region’s sanctuary policy.

The two suspected murderers and MS-13 gang members, 16-year-old Josue Rafael Fuentes-Ponce and 17-year-old Joel Ernesto Escobar, had been in police custody last year after being charged with attempted murder for a different incident.

ICE, a federal agency within the Department of Homeland Security, issued a detainer for the two. A detainer is a way of asking local law enforcement to hold an individual up to 48 hours in its jail until federal agents can pick the person up. Once in federal custody, the individual will go through removal proceedings and likely be deported.

However, because Prince George’s County banned local police from holding unauthorized immigrants for ICE, including those charged or convicted of crimes, the two were not turned over.

“These individuals had demonstrated violent criminal behavior before, and because they were released in spite of the lawful detainer, they were afforded an opportunity to take a life,” Diane Witte, director of Baltimore’s ICE field office, said in a statement to the Washington Examiner .

ICE and the Prince George’s County corrections department went back and forth with statements over an apparent miscommunication between the two. In 2014, the county changed its policy to let ICE know when it will release a person, but would no longer hold that person.

Andrew Cephas, a spokesman for Prince George’s corrections, said the boys were not released onto the street but were transferred to the Cheltenham Youth Detention Center, thus they did not inform ICE. The federal agency complained it was never informed and would have issued a new detainer aimed at the youth jail if it had known the boys were in a new facility.

At some point, the boys were released from custody though the timeline is unclear.

ICE has issued a new detainer for the boys, who were charged with murder after a 14-year-old girl’s body was found in a creek earlier this month. Prosecutors have said the suspects thought the victim would turn them in for a recent robbery and took custody of her, forced her to strip naked, then beat her to death with a baseball bat and cut her up with a machete. The violent style of killing is one MS-13 has become synonymous for.

One of the suspects, Fuentes-Ponce, arrived in the U.S. in 2015 with his family. Fuentes-Ponce and his family did not appear in immigration court for his decision years later and were ordered deported despite being absent.

Escobar arrived at the southern border in 2016 as an unaccompanied minor. Youth who illegally cross from Mexico into the U.S. are turned over to Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement, who then places the child with a family member, extended family member, or friend. He was released to a relative in the Washington area.

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