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September 15, 2020Baltimore, MD, United StatesEnforcement and Removal, Transnational Gangs

ICE lodges detainers on 3 defendants in Baltimore murder with ties to MS-13

BALTIMORE – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has lodged immigration detainers on three defendants charged in the May 29 murder of 16-year-old Gabriela Ardon. In addition to being illegally present in the United States, they are believed to be members or associates of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), a transnational criminal organization.

“In this case, two of the suspects arrested had previously been encountered by ICE but due to state and local policies that put politics above public safety, they were released to the street,” said Acting Baltimore Field Office Director Francisco Madrigal. “This is the worst-case scenario when detainers are not honored.”

ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) lodged detainers with the Baltimore County Detention Center on unlawfully present Salvadoran nationals Wilson Art Constanza-Galdomez, 21, and Wualter Orellana- Hernandez, 19, and unlawfully present Honduran national Jonathan J. Pesquera-Puerto, 19. All three have been charged with first degree murder, first degree assault, and kidnapping in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Maryland. The suspects were already in police custody in connection to a June 6 assault of three individuals resulting in the death of a woman. All entered the United States as minors.

ICE’s ERO officers in Suffolk County, New York, previously encountered Constanza-Galdomez in February 2018 when he was arrested on local charges, and he entered ICE custody March 3, 2018. An immigration judge subsequently granted him bond, and he was released from custody May 29, 2018. Constanza-Galdomez was again arrested in Suffolk County on local charges Dec. 8, 2018, and ICE lodged a detainer with the Suffolk County Jail. On April 17, 2019, after being sentenced to time served, he was released from Suffolk County First District Court despite an active ICE detainer. He did not appear for his immigration hearing, and an immigration judge ordered him removed to El Salvador Oct. 7, 2019.

Orellana-Hernandez was previously arrested on local charges by the Prince George’s County Police Department Jan. 20, 2020. ICE lodged a detainer with Prince George’s County Detention Center the same day, but the detainer was not honored, and he was released.

About Detainers

Under federal law, ICE has the authority to lodge immigration detainers with law enforcement partners who have custody of individuals arrested on criminal charges and who ICE has probable cause to believe are removable aliens. The detainer form asks the other law enforcement agency to notify ICE in advance of release and to maintain custody of the alien for a brief period of time so that ICE can take custody of that person in a safe and secure setting upon release from that agency’s custody. Yet, across the United States, several jurisdictions refuse to honor detainers and instead choose to willingly release criminal offenders back into their local communities where they are free to offend.

Sanctuary Policies Put Public Safety at Risk

When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release a criminal alien onto the streets, it negatively impacts public safety. Any local jurisdiction thinking that refusing to cooperate with ICE will result in a decrease in local immigration enforcement is mistaken. Local jurisdictions that choose to not cooperate with ICE are likely to see an increase in ICE enforcement activity, as the agency has no choice but to conduct more at-large arrest operations. A consequence of ICE being forced to make more arrests on the streets, the agency is likely to encounter other unlawfully present foreign nationals who would not have been encountered had we been allowed to take custody of a criminal target within the confines of a local jail. Additionally, once these criminals are out on the street, confirming their whereabouts is often time consuming and resource intensive. Many of our arrest targets are seasoned criminals who are savvy about eluding law enforcement.