(CBS4) — More fuel has been added to the continuing feud between federal officials and local police and sheriff’s departments regarding immigration enforcement. The divide between them was highlighted most recently by arrest of Enrique Guzman-Rincon.
The 29-year-old man was caught in Aurora on April 9, five years to the month after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials issued an immigration detainer request to a local department to keep him in custody.READ MORE: ICE Officials Criticize New Colorado Law After Immigrant Released From Jail Is Charged With Attempted Murder
But in 2014, Colorado’s local law enforcement agencies began ignoring the fed’s detainer requests. They could not keep an immigrant – or anyone, for that matter – in custody for a longer length of time than legally required.
The ICE requests are not backed by law, they argued. They are requests only.
The rights of citizens and non-citizens regarding unfair detainment, however, are constitutionally protected.
Colorado’s state legislature took an official stance on the issue in 2019.
Guzman-Rincon was accused of paralyzing a teenage girl in Aurora in 2010 when he fired his gun into a crowd. Investigators alleged Guzman-Rincon was attempting to fire at rival gang members from the back seat of a car. Karina Vargas, 16, was shot in the back. The bullet struck her spine.
Guzman-Rincon was arrested and charged with six counts of attempted murder in the case. In a rare occurrence during the trial, jury members were sequestered overnight in the courthouse for their own protection. According to case documents, a police informant indicated that gang members had accessed recorded witness interviews and developed a “hit list” including the witnesses, prosecutors, and the case detective.
Jurors, the informant warned, might be followed home.
Fortunately, nothing like that occurred, and the trial reached its conclusion without incident. Guzman-Rincon was ultimately sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Years later, that sentence was overturned.
An appeals court judge ruled that the jury was improperly informed of the gang threat before reaching its verdict.
Guzman-Rincon was sent back to court in Arapahoe County. In October of 2017, he was found guilty of attempted reckless manslaughter by another jury and re-sentenced to three years.
He had already been behind bars for almost seven.READ MORE: ICE Officers Arrest Child Sex Assault Suspect At DIA After Denver Jail Released Him
ICE officials don’t know exactly when, where or how Guzman-Rincon entered the country. But it wasn’t legally, they claim.
He was also a member a gang established in Mexico and Central America.
ICE issued a detainer request during his second trial. It went to the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail, in April of 2016, a year and a half before he was re-sentenced.
In announcing his arrest earlier this month, ICE stated Guzman-Rincon had been released from the Arapahoe County Detention Center by the sheriff’s office that operates it.
But that was not what happened.
Research by CBS4 revealed Guzman-Rincon was delivered back to the Colorado Department of Corrections, which had been housing him prior to his appeal and second trial, on Oct. 25, 2017 – eight days after he was re-sentenced. He walked out of the DOC facility that same day.
“He wasn’t ours to release,” ACSO spokesperson Ginger Delgado told CBS4.
A spokesperson for ICE corrected the agency’s mistake. But she also reinforced the problem behind the prisoner’s release.
“The point we attempted to show is that non-cooperation between law enforcement agencies results in public safety threats being released to the community,” Alethea Smock told CBS4. “In this case, Guzman had been ordered removed and was not a citizen of the U.S. ICE’s responsibility is to fulfill the judge’s order to remove Guzman and non-cooperation between agencies makes our jobs to protect the homeland much more difficult.”
Guzman-Rincon, she said, remains in ICE custody.
Before his arrest in April, Guzman-Rincon was on ICE’s Top 10 Most Wanted list.
Across the country, ICE issued almost 48,000 detainer requests between October of last year and April 10, according to Smock. She did not have details on how many of those requests – nationally or locally – were not honored by local agencies.
No legislation has been proposed at the state legislature to address the present gap in enforcement. However, the U.S. Congress currently has a bill in the Senate’s Judiciary Committee authorizing a 48-hour hold on “criminal aliens.”MORE NEWS: Denver Gets Federal Funding Previously Withheld Over ‘Sanctuary City’ Conflict