ICE ‘erroneously’ released Colombian murderer into US because of ‘national bed space shortage’: Report

News & Politics

A man with a previous murder conviction was “erroneously” released into the U.S. after he crossed the border illegally, ICE has reportedly stated.

The case relates to Efrain Vidales Vargas, a 49-year-old Colombian national who was convicted of aggravated homicide, aggravated theft, and possession of a weapon in connection with an incident that occurred in 2014. In September 2016, a Colombian court sentenced Vargas to 17 years in prison.

‘I cannot fathom for a million years why ICE would release somebody that had a warrant, or was a suspect, or anything in a heinous crime like a murder.’

It seems that Vargas may have managed to escape from his detention facility in Colombia because last November, he reportedly crossed the U.S. border near Yuma, Arizona. He was then picked up by Border Patrol, who handed him over to ICE for further processing.

According to Ali Bradley, a journalist who covers issues related to the southern border for NewsNation, ICE agents knew about Vargas’ violent past while he was in custody. On December 11, an agent noted that Vargas had been convicted of murder and that he had committed other crimes as a juvenile, Bradley reported, citing sources.

Nevertheless, Vargas was released into the U.S. two days later with a notice to appear because of a “national bed space shortage caused by southwest border surge,” Bradley reported.

On May 6, deportation officers with ERO Boston arrested Vargas near his residence in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A tip from a Colombian Interpol official reportedly led to the arrest.

Vargas, “an unlawfully present Colombian national who is wanted by Colombian authorities for a Homicide conviction,” will hopefully soon be deported back to his home country, where he will “face criminal prosecution,” ICE said in a statement shared by Bradley.

ICE also acknowledged in the statement that Vargas was “erroneously” released into the U.S. last year. The statement hinted that overworked agents simply cannot handle such an insurgence of illegal immigrants.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations employs a staff of around 4,000 deportation officers who manage a national non-detained docket of more than 7 million noncitizens – a number that increases every day,” it said.

Chris Clem, a retired Border Patrol chief for the Yuma sector, indicated to NewsNation that the bungling of Vargas’ case is a “great[] betrayal to the American people.” “I cannot fathom for a million years why ICE would release somebody that had a warrant, or was a suspect, or anything in a heinous crime like a murder,” he added.

A statement from ERO Boston Field Office Director Todd M. Lyons, however, claimed that his agency is committed to “public safety.” “ERO Boston will continue to prioritize public safety by aggressively apprehending and removing the most egregious noncitizen offenders from our New England neighborhoods,” the statement said.

Without mentioning Vargas by name, Lyons added that the illegal alien would soon be back behind bars in Colombia, where he belongs. “This Colombian national is wanted in his home country for some very serious crimes,” Lyons said. “He attempted to hide out in Massachusetts, and now he will have to answer for his actions.”

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