There seems to be a full-court press over every single illegal alien who dies of natural causes after making the perilous journey over our border. Yet there is almost no coverage even of the most high-profile murders committed by illegal aliens, including by the “children” coming through our border from Central America and being released into our communities.
Last week, three teens, including two confirmed illegal aliens from El Salvador, were charged with first-degree murder in Prince George’s County, Maryland, for allegedly butchering a 14-year-old with a bat and machete. Josue Rafael Fuentes-Ponce, 16, and Joel Ernesto Escobar, 17, both gang members, were arrested on May 16 by PG County police for the murder of 14-year-old Ariana Funes-Diaz in a wooded area in Riverdale. Shockingly, a 14-year-old girl, Cynthia Hernandez-Nucamendi, was also arrested for the murder last week.
Gang-style murders committed by illegal aliens have become very common both on the Maryland and Virginia sides of Washington D.C., as these counties are saturated with illegal aliens from Central America who are often connected to MS-13. Yet nobody in the local media reported on their immigration status until now.
In response to a media request from CR last week regarding the immigration status of those charged, ICE has now confirmed that the two male suspects were both illegal aliens from El Salvador who were released into the country – one as part of a family unit and one as an unaccompanied alien child. It turns out both were arrested for attempted murder almost exactly a year ago, and both were released by the PG County criminal justice system in defiance of an ICE detainer.
ICE has confirmed that Josue Rafael Fuentes-Ponce was first apprehended as part a family unit in Texas on December 23, 2015. “They were ultimately paroled into the U.S. pending the outcome of the immigration case,” said ICE spokeswoman Justine Whelan in a statement. An immigration judge ordered Fuentes removed in absentia on March 16, 2017, but like so many of them, it was too late. He had already disappeared.
Escobar had a parallel experience, except that because his family smuggled him in alone, he was resettled as an unaccompanied alien child. “On Aug. 23, 2016, immigration officials encountered unlawfully present El Salvadoran national Joel Ernesto Escobar as an unaccompanied juvenile near McAllen, Texas. Escobar was transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and later released to a family member in the Washington, D.C. area,” said Whelan.
The fact that, once again, illegal aliens released into our country as part of a smuggling operation were allowed to remain and allegedly commit murder would be tragic enough, but that is not the end of the story.
Both Fuentes and Escobar were charged with attempted murder almost exactly one year ago in PG County. ICE previously lodged a detainer against each of them on May 11, 2018, with the Prince George’s County Detention Center. At the time, Fuentes was arrested “for attempted first-degree murder and related charges” and Escobar was arrested “for attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, participation in gang activity and other related charges,” according to Whelan.
In the case of Fuentes, the case was remanded to juvenile court, after which “the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services failed to honor that detainer and Fuentes was released without notification to ICE.” In the case of Escobar, he was released by county police “without notification to ICE.” Escobar was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery on March 15, 2019, still without any notification to ICE.
PG County does not allow ICE in its jails, so ICE has no way of knowing when these individuals are released.
It wasn’t until their high-profile arrest on May 16 that ICE was again aware of their whereabouts, now with another teenager dead. “As law enforcement officers, we must continue to serve and protect the American public and act in the interest of public safety first,” said Baltimore Field Office Director Diane Witte in a statement. “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.”
I’ve reported on numerous cases where illegal aliens arrested for murder had previously been released after charges of DUI, assault, or drug trafficking. But to ignore an ICE detainer after an initial charge of attempted murder is a new level for local sanctuaries thumbing their noses at federal immigration officials. Attempted murder is hard to dismiss as “low-level” charges. One has to wonder, if they are not honoring detainers on attempted murder charges and are not notifying ICE of the arrestees’ release, how many other murders, robberies, assaults, drunk driving incidents, and gang crimes could have been avoided? It’s quite evident that these crimes would certainly not impel local authorities to cooperate with ICE if an attempted murder charge is not enough.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.