by Jason Hopkins
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested a gang member living in the United States unlawfully shortly after an arrest warrant was issued on him for capital murder.
ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers on Thursday apprehended Jonathan Alexander Gonzalez-Rosales, a 25-year-old Salvadoran national and illegal alien, according to a press release from the agency. A member of the 18th Street Gang — a transnational criminal organization — Gonzalez-Rosales had been on the run from U.S. authorities for nearly two years.
ICE previously encountered Gonzalez-Rosales at a magistrate court in San Antonio, Texas, in December 2017 and lodged a detainer request on him, and he ultimately landed in the agency’s custody. An immigration judge granted him bond Feb. 7, 2018, and he was released from custody upon posting bond on Feb. 22 of that year.
However, Gonzalez-Rosales never appeared before his July 16, 2018, immigration court hearing. An immigration judge in San Antonio, consequently, ordered him to be deported in absentia back to his come country of El Salvador.
He remained at large from federal authorities — until a teenager was found dead earlier in 2020.
The body of Franklin Alexander Mercado, a 17-year-old, was discovered by law enforcement in Dallas, Texas, on Jan. 22, 2020. Mercado’s body had multiple stab wounds at the time of its discovery, according to court documents.
A magistrate judge in Dallas County issued an arrest warrant for Gonzalez-Rosales on April 1 for capital murder. ICE’s ERO officers apprehended him the very next day in Arlington, Texas, and transferred him to the Bedford City Jail in Bedford, Texas.
Gonzalez-Rosales, according to the agency, will remain in ICE custody until he is transferred to the Dallas County Jail, where he faces pending capital murder charges.
The arrest is the latest major victory by the agency amid the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier in March, ICE announced that it would scale back its operations amid the crisis, but made clear that it will prioritize arrests of those who pose public safety threats.
“ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) will focus enforcement on public safety risks and individuals subject to mandatory detention based on criminal grounds,” the agency said on March 18. “For those individuals who do not fall into those categories, ERO will exercise discretion to delay enforcement actions until after the crisis or utilize alternatives to detention, as appropriate.”
As the virus continues to spread across the country, more critics are demanding the release of the agency’s detainee population — and many releases have already taken place.
However, the release of these detainees poses other risks for the community. An ICE document obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation revealed that four of the six detainees ordered to be released from a facility in San Bernardino County, California, carried felony convictions, including sexual assault and cruelty toward minors.
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Jason Hopkins is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.