KING COUNTY, Wash. -- Two men suspected of committing separate murders in King County this year were both targeted by immigration officials for deportation before the crimes happened, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
An ICE spokesperson claimed these men are in the country illegally, but because of the region's sanctuary policies, jails ignored its requests to hold them and instead released them back into communities where they continued to commit crimes and are now in jail accused of murder.
Cases like these put sanctuary policies back in the spotlight. In a statement, King County Executive Dow Constantine is accusing ICE of digging up these cases to try to prove a political point.
"ICE is now on a public relations offensive against jurisdictions that follow the rule of law, alerting the media to instances when agents send civil Immigration Detainers that are prohibited by county policy," he said.
It is county policy to ignore immigration detainers, only detaining a person who is otherwise ordered released if there is a signed warrant by a U.S. District Court judge or magistrate. ICE only issued civil immigration detainers in these two cases.
The first case involves the April shooting death of an 18-year-old in Goldsmith Park in Bellevue. One of four suspects arrested came to the U.S. from Guatemala as an unaccompanied minor in 2015 and had been targeted for removal, according to ICE.
Bellevue Police announced the arrests of four people last week - three men and a 15-year-old boy - for reportedly killing Josue Flores in what investigators have called a gang-related shooting.
Flores was found dead in the park in the early morning hours of April 3. It was the first murder in Bellevue in over three years.
ICE claimes suspect Carlos Daniel Carillo-Lopez was in jail about three weeks before the murder after being arrested for a different crime. The agency lodged a civil detainer to hold him, but he was released without ICE being notified - a county policy.
A criminal history search showed Carillo-Lopez was arrested on March 15, 2019, and booked into the South Correctional Entity jail.
“This is yet again another example of sanctuary policies shielding criminal aliens who prey on people in their own and other communities from immigration enforcement," ICE spokeswoman Tanya Roman said.
On April 4, one day after Flores was killed, Carillo-Lopez was arrested again in Bellevue for charges unrelated to the murder and booked into the same jail in Des Moines, Roman said.
ICE again requested an immigration hold, but he was released without ICE being notified. Carillo-Lopez was arrested for a third time 14 days later and booked into the same jail. ICE asked for the same immigration hold, and he was released without ICE notification, Roman said.
Two months later, in June, Bellevue police arrested Carillo-Lopez for a fourth time and booked him into the King County Jail. ICE requested an immigration detainer for a fourth time, Roman said.
Carillo-Lopez was arrested for Flores' murder Sept. 30. He has since been charged with second-degree murder and unlawful possession of a firearm. He remains in the King County Jail on a $2 million bond. Booking records show he is also being held on a robbery charge.
"As Carillo-Lopez’s crimes increased in severity, local officials chose to release him, time and time again, over immigration detainers that could have taken him off the streets," Roman said.
In a second murder case, last month authorities pulled the body of a high school student, 16-year-old Juan Carlos Con Guzman, out of the Green River in Auburn. This week, King County deputies arrested two men for his brutal murder.
ICE claims at least one of the men arrested is undocumented and that nearly a year ago, the agency asked for an immigration hold after a different arrest. Again, he was released.
Roman said notifying ICE is "a simple process that could have potentially prevented this crime."
ICE requests immigration holds from local law enforcement when federal agents believe suspects are in the country illegally and eligible for deportation.
"ICE is fully aware that if they present a valid criminal warrant issued by a U.S. District Court Judge or Magistrate, the county would comply," Constantine said. "To be clear, we do not hold people against their will in our detention facilities unless ordered to do so by a judge. We will continue to honor the Constitution, rather than the extrajudicial orders of any person, including the President."
Washington also has a statewide sanctuary law that prohibits local jails and state prisons from complying with voluntary immigration holds requested by federal authorities, or from notifying federal authorities when an immigrant is about to be released from their custody - unless there's a court order.
Supporters of sanctuary laws say it's not the job of local law enforcement to act as immigration enforcement, but opponents say sanctuary laws hamper the ability of police to do their job.
“ICE maintains that cooperation by local law enforcement is an indispensable component of promoting public safety. It’s unfortunate that current local and state laws and policies tie the hands of local law enforcement agencies that want and need to work with ICE to promote public safety by holding criminals accountable and providing justice and closure for their victims," Roman said.
Constantine's office said the Trump administration and ICE are "seeking to sow fear and division for political gain" by focusing on crimes committed by immigrants, despite studies that show no correlation between undocumented immigrants and violent crime. In fact, immigration advocates argue that undocumented immigrants are more often the victims of crime, not the perpetrators.
Constantine's office released a timeline of events in the Carillo-Lopez case in response to the claims by ICE. Q13 News has asked his office to also address ICE's claims about the suspect in the Auburn murder.
April 3: Police responded to the shooting death of an 18-year-man in a Bellevue park. Mr. Carillo-Lopez was the primary suspect. There was no arrest, and therefore no ICE civil Immigration Detainer. These are written requests to hold an individual an additional 48 hours after their release date. They can be filed without due process, pending charges, or probable cause.
June 9: Mr. Carillo-Lopez was arrested for a robbery in Bellevue. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed charges and requested bail of $50,000. King County Superior Court authorized bail in the amount of $25,000. Mr. Carillo-Lopez posted bond shortly after the charges were filed and was released.
While Mr. Carillo-Lopez was in custody, the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention (DAJD) received an ICE civil Immigration Detainer to hold him.
King County law on civil Immigration Detainers is clear and well-known to the agency.
DAJD complies when a King County district or superior court judge orders an inmate released from detention. At the same time, DAJD will detain an individual who has otherwise been ordered released if there is a signed warrant issued by a U.S. District Court Judge or magistrate.
September 22: Mr. Carillo-Lopez committed another robbery in Bellevue.
September 30: Bellevue police arrested Mr. Carillo-Lopez for the September 22 robbery and the April murder.
Mr. Carillo-Lopez remains in custody in the King County Jail, with bail set at $2,150,000. ICE faxed another civil Immigration Detainer on Oct. 1 to hold him, but did not provide King County with a signed warrant issued by a U.S. District Court judge or magistrate.