Stating that North Carolina resident’s are “less safe,” U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has denounced Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden for releasing an illegal immigrant accused of child rape.
On a positive note, ICE’s Charlotte Fugitive Operations Team has arrested Oscar Pacheco-Leonardo, a fugitive from Honduras who was set free nearly two months ago when Mecklenburg County refused to honor an ICE detainer notice.
Pacheco-Leonardo had been arrested on charges of first-degree rape and indecent liberties with a minor.
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Atlanta Field Office Director Sean Gallagher did not mince words in a public statement, saying the sheriff’s actions make Mecklenburg County a “safe haven” for criminal aliens.
“This is yet another example of a clear public safety threat being released onto the streets of Mecklenburg County rather than into ICE custody due to the current sheriff’s policy on ICE non-cooperation.” Gallagher said. “The Mecklenburg County sheriff’s decision to restrict cooperation with ICE serves as an open invitation to aliens who commit criminal offenses that Mecklenburg County is a safe haven for persons seeking to evade federal authorities, and residents of Mecklenburg County are less safe today than last year due these policies.”
Sheriff McFadden looked past his refusal to honor an ICE detainer to hide behind the law in the release of the suspected child rapist.
“Bonds are not set by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office,” McFadden said at a news conference on Friday, according to Fox 46 Charlotte. “We do not have any part of the bonds being set, and we do not have any part of the magistrate releasing these individuals.”
In a statement, the sheriff pointed out that Pacheco-Leonardo had previously been deported and that it was a federal felony for him to reenter the U.S., saying ICE should have issued a criminal arrest warrant, knowing that he had a policy of not cooperating with administrative detainers.
“When we notified ICE on June 14, they had the discretion to bring a criminal warrant or a detainer,” McFadden said. “They sent us a detainer.”
“ICE chose to issue voluntary ICE administrative detainers on Pacheco-Leonardo, knowing that it is against MCSO’s policy to honor such detainers,” he added. “Based upon Pacheco-Leonardo’s previous deportation, ICE could have but did NOT seek a criminal arrest warrant for Illegal Re-Entry.”
In effect, the liberal sheriff is justifying his politically-motivated policy by blaming ICE.
ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations listed over 20 examples of detainers not being honored by the sheriff, including cases involving charges as serious as assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and assault with a deadly weapon and indecent liberties with a child.
Responding to the controversy, Republican North Carolina Speaker Rep. Tim Moore took to Twitter to say the House will vote on legislation to require cooperation with ICE.
“The North Carolina House will vote on H.B. 370 Require Sheriff Cooperation with ICE Detainers – a bill supported by the N.C. Sheriffs’ Association – as early as next week to end this outrageous refusal to protect the public from wanted criminals,” Moore tweeted.
The North Carolina House will vote on H.B. 370 Require Sheriff Cooperation with ICE Detainers – a bill supported by the N.C. Sheriffs' Association – as early as next week to end this outrageous refusal to protect the public from wanted criminals. https://t.co/Tlt87xGtvd #ncpol
— Speaker Tim Moore (@NCHouseSpeaker) August 16, 2019
“What really is an outrage is the fact that he [Pacheco-Leonardo] was ever released,” Moore said of the recent incident, according to Fox 46. “I mean, why are we turning a person charged with rape loose on the street?”
He added, “Had the sheriff honored the ICE detainer, this rapist wouldn’t have been turned loose back on the street, but would have been turned over immediately to ICE officials.”
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