Illegal immigrant and ‘known gang member’ charged with murder two months after his release from jail

RealClear Contributor

            

An illegal immigrant suspected in a Denver murder this month was released from the Denver County Jail in December after ICE officials flagged him as an “immigration enforcement priority.”

Ever Valles, 19, was arrested on Oct. 20 in Denver and held on multiple charges including possession of a weapon, vehicle theft and eluding.

Valles was tagged by ICE with a "detainer" notice which means that Denver jail officials would have to notify ICE when he is released.

ICE agents would then be at the jail to take Valles into federal custody.

“The detainer wasn’t honored,” ICE said Friday night in a statement. “He was released by the jail on Dec. 20, 2016, without notification to ICE.”

Denver officials, however, deny the claims that they didn't notify ICE stating that they sent notification of Valles’ impending release by fax to the local ICE office at 11:33 p.m. Dec. 20 after Valles posted $5,000 bond earlier in the day. Valles was then released from jail at 11:59 p.m.

But ICE officials, who describe Valles as a “citizen of Mexico” and a “known gang member.” claim that they didn't receive the fax until 12:37 a.m. on Dec. 21, an hour after jail officials said they sent the fax and 30 minutes after Valles walked free.

“Due to his criminal history and gang affiliation, Valles is an ICE immigration enforcement priority,” the statement said.

Just two months after Valles was released, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann formally charged Valles and Nathan Valdez, both 19, in connection with the shooting death of 32-year-old Tim Cruz at an RTD station on the Denver-Lakewood border earlier this month.

Both have been charged with one count of murder in the first degree-robbery, murder in the first degree-kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping and second-degree kidnapping-gun.

Valles was charged with four counts of aggravated robbery-gun while Valdez was only charged with two counts. Valdez was additionally charged with murder in the first degree.

Both are accused of robbing and shooting Cruz at gunpoint at the 12th and Sheridan light rail station at about 1 a.m. on Feb. 7. Police arrested Valles the next day on a parole violation. Valdez was arrested on Feb. 10.

Valles and Valdez are scheduled to appear in Denver District Courtroom 5D on Feb. 21 at 1:15 p.m.

The sheriff’s department released a statement Friday night.

“The Denver Sheriff Department balances the rights of persons in our custody with requests from other jurisdictions,” it said. “But we are part of the criminal justice system and do not hold people on civil matters.”

The sheriff’s office also said it indeed notified ICE before Valles was released from the jail.

“Denver has never and will never advocate for felons to remain on our streets — immigrants or not,” the sheriff’s release said.

Mayor Michael Hancock said during his state of the city address in January that Denver is not a “sanctuary city.” The mayor’s statement came after President Donald Trump issued an executive order threatening to withhold federal funds from any city that knowingly harbor illegal immigrants.

However, Hancock seemingly went back on his claim, in a statement he made via YouTube on January 27th.

“If being a sanctuary city means that we value taking care of one another, and welcoming refugees and immigrants, then I welcome the title. If being a sanctuary city means families and young ‘Dreamers’ live with hope and not fear, then Washington can label us whatever they want,” Hancock said, referring to the estimated 1.8 million children brought to the U.S. as children and allowed to stay in the temporarily under a 2012 executive order issued by former President Barack Obama.

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