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'Unacceptable': Denver sheriff comments on handling of suspect wanted by ICE

Sunday, a spokesperson for the Denver Sheriff Department said the jail alerted Immigration and Customs Enforcement an hour after Ivan Zamarripa-Castaneda walked out of the jail.
Ivan Zamarripa-Castaneda (Photo: DA's office)

For days, federal immigrations officials had wanted the city of Denver to notify them if a man picked up on a deadly hit-and-run case was getting ready to post bond making himself eligible to leave the downtown jail.

Saturday evening, they finally got word that Ivan Zamarripa-Castaneda was on his way out. There was just one big problem, 9Wants To Know has learned.

Sunday, a spokesperson for the Denver Sheriff Department said the jail alerted Immigration and Customs Enforcement an hour after Zamarripa-Castaneda walked out of the jail.

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As a consequence, ICE was never able to pick up a man they had sought for possible deportation, and the Denver Sheriff Department has ordered an immediate internal review to try to figure out what happened.

"This is unacceptable," read a Sunday statement in part from the Denver Sheriff Department.

Thursday, Denver prosecutors charged Zamarripa-Castaneda with vehicular homicide-DUI and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. They believe the Mexican National was driving drunk when he caused a fiery crash on I-70 near Brighton Blvd. on March 3. They say he left the scene and was later arrested at his home.

John Anderson, 57, has been identified as the victim in the accident.

Zamarripa-Castaneda is "not in ICE custody" read a brief statement from a spokesperson for ICE. ICE could conceivably still try to pick him up before his next court appearance. It's not unusual for ICE to hold off deportation proceedings while someone awaits an outcome in a felony matter.

This all comes a little more than a year after the Denver jail faced national scrutiny for its handling of the release of Ever Valles.

Valles went on to take part in the shooting death of a man at an RTD light rail station in Feb. 2017 three months after walking out of the Denver jail.

Ever Valles

Back then, ICE had sought and received a notification of Valles' release, but the notification - which was made via fax - arrived just 26 minutes prior to the release.

Consequently, ICE never arrived in time to pick up Valles, and three months later, he took part in the shooting death of Tim Cruz at the light rail station.

Valles, who prosecutors believe was not the trigger man, received 29 years in prison for his role in Cruz's murder during a sentencing hearing on Friday. His co-defendant received 58 years during the same hearing.

Zamarripa-Castaneda's release also comes at a time when local officials are facing renewed scrutiny for how their jails deal with immigration officials. The city of Denver recently passed an ordinance that says city employees will not collect information on an individual’s immigration status, won’t detain anyone on behalf of ICE, and wont share an individual’s immigration status for the purpose of immigration enforcement.

The city ordinance also prevents ICE agents from entering the jail without a warrant. While some of these practices were in place prior to the ordinance, the Denver City Council passed the city-wide policy in 2017.

Read the entire statement from the Denver Sheriff Department below:

Ivan Zamarripa-Castaneda posted a $25K bond on March 10, 2018 and was released from Denver’s Downtown Detention Center at 5:28 p.m. Although the department alerted ICE in response to a request for release notification it received, that did not occur until 6:33 p.m. This is unacceptable and the Sheriff has ordered an immediate internal review to determine why established notification processes did not take place before Zamarripa-Castaneda was released.

Read the entire statement from ICE Denver Field Office Director Jeffrey D. Lynch below:

“Based on an immigration detainer lodged on March 5, on March 10, 2018, the Denver County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO) notified the Denver Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that it would be releasing on bond Ivan Gerardo Zamarripa-Castaneda, 26, from Mexico, at an unspecified time. Less than two hours afterwards, ICE deportation officers arrived at the sheriff’s office to have Zamarripa-Castaneda transferred to ICE custody, only to be told that he had already been released.

ICE is coordinating with DCSO to identify the communications issues that occurred in this instance to avoid any recurrence in the future. As law enforcement professionals, we should all have the same ultimate goal in mind — to protect the public by combating criminals. ICE helps fulfill that role by removing criminal aliens from the streets, and from the United States.

Zamarripa-Castaneda is currently an immigration fugitive.”

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story stated that Denver no longer allows ICE into its jail. ICE has never been allowed in the Denver jails.

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