Daniel Ramirez tattoo: Attorneys release picture, dispute immigration case

Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old who was brought to the United States from Mexico as a child, remains in a Tacoma detention center.

Ramirez enrolled in a federal program to protect those brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement said regardless of that program they want to send him back to Mexico because of what they said is self-admitted gang involvement. Ramirez’s attorneys said he is not a gang member and accuse ICE officers of tampering with a forms used in his alleged admission.

One of the big focuses in the case involves the interpretation of Ramirez's tattoo. His attorneys released an image of it on Wednesday, nearly a week after the government filed a redacted version in court.

Key developments in case:

  • Daniel Ramirez Medina, 23, was detained by immigration authorities nearly two weeks ago.
  • Immigration officials say they took Ramirez into custody "based on his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety."
  • He was taken from his father's home in Des Moines
  • Follow this link to read the brief on Ramirez from the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Follow this link to read the petition filed by Ramirez attorneys.
  • Ramirez was brought to the United States when he was 7 years old and was approved for President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).
  • Immigration officials said that Ramirez's DACA status can be terminated because of his gang affiliation.
  • Court documents filed on Thursday reports Ramirez had a "gang tattoo" on his forearm, but his lawyers said the agents misidentified it.
  • A federal magistrate in Seattle declined to release Ramirez last week.

>> Related: Q&A: Both sides in case of man detained by immigration agents

ICE said Ramirez has a gang tattoo on his forearm and told an Immigration and Customs Enforcement he "used to hang out with the Surenos in California," that he fled California to escape from gangs. Ramirez said he "still hangs out with the Paizas in Washington State," according to ICE's legal response made public last Thursday.

Ramirez's attorney claims the tattoo was misidentified. His attorney said the tattoo says "La Paz BCS," referring to the term "peace" in Spanish and Baja California Sur, where Ramirez's attorney said he was born.

>> Related: Feds explain alleged gang affiliation in Daniel Ramirez-Medina case; attorney rejects it

The Surenos, also known as the Sur 13, is a term for affiliated gangs that started in California. The term was first used in the 1970s as a result of a California prison war between the Mexican Mafia and Nuestra Famila and the war resulted in territorial division between northern and southern California gang members, according to the Samson County Sheriff's Office.

The Paizas, also referred to as the Paisas, is a gang that has been linked to Washington and at least seven other states by the FBI, which also says the gang has ties to incarcerated gang members. News reports also link the gang to prison violence.

KIRO 7 News reached out to a  local gang expert, Gabe Morales, who works with police and at-risk youths. Morales also looked at the photo provided by attorneys and gave his interpretation to KIRO 7. He also said “BCS” refers to Baja California Sur in Mexico.

"That is a Nautical Star signifying Wanderer," Morales wrote. "The tat looks more green than blue to me, but blue is a common Sureno color. I am not convinced it is a gang tat. ICE says he self-admitted used to hang with Surenos in Cali; that is not an active admission of membership.

"To be validated in WA State he'd have to have at least one more recognized gang validation criteria. I do not recall him being on my radar in WA State and I'm aware of most of them."

A gang expert also spoke in Ramierez's case. Attorneys released a statement on Wednesday that was given by gang expert Martin Flores; it was filed as part of evidence filed with courts last weeks.

Here’s an excerpt of it:

"In my extensive experiece with gang-related symbols and tattoos, I would not identify this tattoo as gang-related. I have never seen a gang member with a similar tattoo nor would I attribute this tattoo to have any gang-related meaning. In particular, this tattoo does not match any of the Sureño symbolism or tattoos that I have studied. This tattoo also does not match any Paisa symbolism or tattoos.

"The term Paisa is commonly used to refer to people who are recent immigrants and NON gang members. In fact, the word "paisa" is found in the name of many businesses including restaurants, tire shops and etc. It is shortened from the the word "Paisano" which translates to countryman. An inhabitant of a rural or remote area who is usually characterized by an utter lack of sophistication and cultivation. There is no indication that Mr. Daniel Ramirez pertains to any "Paisa" gang but rather that he merely interacted with people who are referred to as Paisa."

Read the full statement here.

The ICE brief filed last week does not link Ramirez to specific incidents with either gang.