Alleged killers of 16-year-old were gang members and undocumented immigrants, court documents and ICE said.
The two men charged with murdering 16-year-old Juan Carlos Con Guzman are members of the MS-13 gang, according to the documents and ICE officials said both men are undocumented immigrants from El Salvador.
Carlos Orlando Iraheta-Vega, 20, and Garcia Hernandez, 28, are charged with first degree murder. They’re in jail on $3 million bail.
ICE officials are now criticizing King County policy saying it prevented them from detaining Iraheta-Vega nearly a year ago.
ICE said after Iraheta-Vega was arrested for theft of a motor vehicle, ICE lodged a detainer, but the King County Jail released him without notifying ICE. ICE said Iraheta-Vega was arrested two more times before Guzman’s murder, but they didn’t know about either.
“We would, in all likelihood, have taken this person into our own custody and maybe prevented this horrific crime from occurring,” ICE Deputy Field Office Director Bryan Wilcox said.
King County has an ordinance preventing staff and law enforcement from asking people about their immigration status or sharing information with immigration.
In a statement, Executive Dow Constantine called ICE’s claims a “...public relations offensive against jurisdictions that follow the rule of law.”
“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 writes. “To be clear, we do not hold people against their will in our detention facilities unless ordered to do so by a judge.”
Constantine would not speak to KOMO on-camera Friday. When asked if there should be an exception in the ordinance for violent offenders, his spokesperson reiterated that if ICE wants help, they should get a warrant.
But ICE officials say they can’t get a warrant in most of these situations.
“For a lot of these criminal activities, there isn’t a comparable immigration federal charge for that,” Wilcox said. “Immigration criminal charges are very limited and relate to immigration and alien smuggling. And the counties know this. They know there’s no such thing.”
Iraheta-Vega first presented himself at a U.S. Port of Entry in 2016, as an unaccompanied child, according to ICE. He was moved to Seattle to live with family as he awaits an immigration court hearing in 2021.
ICE officials say Rudy Garcia Hernandez has a long criminal history on the East Coast. Court documents said he was planning to flee the state when police arrested him.
Arraignment for both alleged killers is scheduled for October 17 at 9 a.m.