KUSA – Twenty-six minutes before a known “immigration enforcement priority” walked out of the downtown Denver jail, the Denver Sheriff’s Department sent a late-night fax to Immigration and Customs Enforcement telling them the 19-year old accused of car theft had just posted $5,000 bond.
ICE, through a written statement, tells 9Wants to Know it never saw the fax – sent at 11:33 p.m. -- in time to do anything about it.
And so Ever Valles, a teen ICE says is a Mexican national, left the jail in lieu of bond five days before Christmas in 2016.
Less than two months later, Denver Police arrested Valles on a crime much more serious than auto theft. Friday, Denver prosecutors charged him with felony murder stemming from the February 7 shooting of 32-year old Tim Cruz.
Investigators believe he and another teen approached Cruz at the RTD light rail station at 12th and Sheridan, intent on robbing someone.
The backstory, first detailed by 9Wants to Know, documents the ongoing problems that exist between ICE and the Denver Sheriff’s Department at a time when the country continues to struggle with how it will enforce federal immigration law.
A statement from Denver Sheriff's Department said that it will never condone having dangerous and violent people out on the street, whether they are immigrants or not. But without a warrant, the department has no legal ground to hold someone once bond has been posted.
The Denver Sheriff’s Department tells 9Wants to Know it “balances the rights of persons in our custody with requests from other jurisdictions, but we are a part of the criminal justice system and do not hold people on civil matters.”
A statement from ICE sent to 9Wants to Know says ICE believes Denver failed to honor a detainer it placed on Valles upon his initial arrest in October on the car theft case. ICE Detainers, in essence, seek a heads-up from a jail when a person living in the country illegally is expected to leave the facility.
It’s not clear if ICE would have picked up Valles even if its officers would have had enough time to place him into their custody. Valles was still awaiting trial on the car theft case.
Yet it’s also clear ICE considered Valles an “immigration enforcement priority.” Its statement sent to 9Wants to Know says ICE believed him to be a “known gang member whose gang history is documented in the Colorado gang database.”
A Colorado Bureau of Investigation arrest report for Valles says he received 2 years with the Colorado Department of Youth Corrections for a drug case in 2014.
Valles and his-codefendant in the RTD light-rail murder, 19-year-old Nathan Valdez, are set to make their first advisements in Denver District Court on Tuesday.
Both face life in prison, if convicted.
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