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ICE fugitives released from Jackson County Jail due to overcrowding, Sheriff says

Two men arrested on drug trafficking charges were released from the Jackson County Jail before ICE could retrieve them. Sheriff Sickler says that this was due largely to the jail's overcrowding problem.

Posted: May 8, 2020 4:09 PM
Updated: May 8, 2020 4:25 PM

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Two men were released from the Jackson County Jail after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) put an immigration detainer on them, according to a statement from ICE earlier this week.

Sheriff Nathan Sickler responded on Friday, saying that his hands were tied by both state law and the ongoing issue of overcrowding at the County Jail.

On Tuesday, April 28, a trooper with Oregon State Police stopped two men in a pickup truck on I-5 for "multiple traffic violations." During a search of the vehicle, the trooper found almost 20 pounds of methamphetamine and more than $16,500 in cash.

25-year-old Leonel Campos-Valdez and 24-year-old Francisco Vazquez-Cruz were taken into custody and booked into the Jackson County Jail.

According to ICE, both men are Mexican citizens who were in the U.S. illegally. On April 29, ICE placed immigration detainers on the two men. The same day, they were both released from jail.

“When criminals who should have been turned over to ICE are instead released into the public, it is a great injustice to the people in which law enforcement is sworn to protect,” said Michael Melendez, acting field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations – Seattle. “As law enforcement officers we have an obligation to protect those in our community, and that includes using every resources within our power, such as immigration detainers, to keep criminals who endanger the public, like these two, off our streets.”

Sickler says that these immigration detainers can't be honored under Oregon law, which has been the case for roughly the past five years due to a court ruling.

"ICE knows and understands this but they have to file them knowing they cannot be honored," Sickler said. "We are allowed and do hold individuals if ICE has a criminal warrant or is charging individuals for crimes. In this case ICE was not pursing criminal charges when they placed the detainer."

However, the reason for the men's release had everything to do with the perennial issue at the Jackson County Jail, Sickler continued — overcrowding.

"Pre-COVID we were forced to release thousands of people a year," Sickler said. "We are now forced to further reduce our capacity in efforts to keep COVID out of our jail. This has caused significant issues with deciding who is kept and who stays in custody."

"The reality is when you have some of the criminal issues we deal with in Jackson County it comes down to there are no good choices to who gets released from jail," he continued. "We are not happy to have to force release anyone from custody but we have too many offenders and not enough bed space. This has been exacerbated by COVID-19."

ICE's statement admonished local agencies for thinking that "refusing to cooperate in ICE [would] result in a decrease in local immigration enforcement."

"Local jurisdictions that choose to not cooperate with ICE are likely to see an increase in ICE enforcement activity, as in jurisdictions that do not cooperate with ICE the agency has no choice but to conduct more at-large targeted enforcement actions," the agency said. "A consequence of ICE being forced to make more arrests on the streets is the agency is likely to encounter other unlawfully present foreign nationals that wouldn’t have been encountered had we been allowed to take custody of a criminal target within the confines of a local jail."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 193732

Reported Deaths: 2572
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah38352591
Washington25592233
Marion22026306
Clackamas17440214
Lane13007148
Jackson10862139
Deschutes896274
Umatilla820284
Linn492969
Yamhill446376
Klamath441164
Polk375752
Malheur351863
Josephine334570
Douglas327271
Benton310019
Jefferson219837
Coos206633
Columbia174427
Union144823
Lincoln137921
Wasco137728
Hood River118730
Crook111322
Morrow110716
Clatsop9858
Baker95414
Tillamook6493
Curry6469
Grant5095
Lake4517
Harney3448
Wallowa1845
Gilliam631
Sherman581
Wheeler321
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3764405

Reported Deaths: 62573
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123645624067
Riverside2994554594
San Bernardino2967824715
San Diego2785913729
Orange2709835026
Santa Clara1190642096
Kern1091771374
Sacramento1048401686
Fresno1018381688
Alameda879401657
Ventura810011013
San Joaquin732201391
Contra Costa68741805
Stanislaus621421061
Tulare49654839
Monterey43613383
San Mateo42038568
San Francisco36720544
Santa Barbara34337456
Solano32953252
Merced31898460
Sonoma30035320
Imperial28443726
Kings22989246
Placer22679292
San Luis Obispo21308260
Madera16462242
Santa Cruz16264207
Marin14056227
Yolo13910210
Shasta12152226
Butte12026199
El Dorado10168112
Napa987082
Sutter9433112
Yuba626847
San Benito606563
Lassen570624
Tehama557262
Nevada474275
Tuolumne413166
Mendocino410149
Humboldt404641
Amador365847
Lake347643
Glenn239125
Colusa223416
Siskiyou223424
Calaveras212954
Inyo142838
Del Norte13938
Mono12844
Plumas7106
Modoc4994
Mariposa4487
Trinity4005
Sierra1120
Alpine880
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