U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said one of the suspects in a Mount Rainier High School student's grisly murder is an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, who came to the U.S. as an unaccompanied child, and has been arrested and released from jail several times in King County since 2018.
ICE said 20-year-old Carlos Iraheta-Vega, who was arrested this week on suspicion of murdering 16-year-old Juan Carlos Con Guzman, has been shielded from immigration enforcement by King County sanctuary policies.
Investigators say the teen was hacked, partially dismembered and then dumped in the Green River last month near Auburn. A motive has not yet been released but newly obtained court documents state there was a "mutual fist fight" prior to the murder.
ICE said it lodged a detainer following Iraheta-Vega's first arrest by Kent police in 2018 but was not notified of his release from jail several days later. Iraheta-Vega was later arrested twice for DUI, according to ICE, and released from jail before they could encounter him.
In a statement to KIRO 7, ICE said, "This scenario, where sanctuary policies shield criminal aliens who prey on people in the community from immigration enforcement, is becoming all too common. As Iraheta-Vega'scrimes 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."
ICE has been vocal in its disdain for local sanctuary policies. On Thursday, King County Executive Dow Constantine released a statement pushing back against an article written about a suspect in a recent Bellevue murder, who ICE said is also undocumented.
"ICE is now on a public relations offensive against jurisdictions that follow the rule of law," said Constantine in the statement. "To be clear, we do not hold people against their will in our detention facilities unless ordered to do so by a judge."
Prosecutors said a judge found probable cause for a second-degree murder charge and set bail at $2 million for Iraheta-Vega.
"Ice basically just wants the local jails and the local police to do their bidding, notwithstanding the state judge's order," said Matt Adams, with Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. "I think they're trying to put public pressure on local officials and trying to taint the community as it were, and try to create this prejudice against the immigrant community."
Detectives have also booked 28-year-old Rudy Osvaldo Garcia-Hernandez into jail on suspicion of murder in connection to the teen's killing.
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