DENVER – The Denver Sheriff Department is disputing allegations it never notified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents it was releasing an inmate with an immigration detainer from custody.
Late on Tuesday, ICE said it had picked up Ricardo Daniel Lopez-Vera, 19, and was holding him pending a hearing in front of a federal immigration judge.
ICE said it had placed an immigration detainer on Lopez-Vera on July 11—a day after he was involved in a fight that left another inmate dead.
Prosecutors decided not to press charges against him for the man’s death, and he was released the morning of July 12 and taken to a hospital.
ICE said Tuesday that the Denver Sheriff Department, which runs the Denver jail, “released [Lopez-Vera] without notifying ICE when and where he would be released despite the IC detainer, and despite his extensive criminal history.”
But a Denver Sheriff Department spokesperson disputed that account on Wednesday.
“The Denver Sheriff Department notified ICE that Ricardo Lopez-Vera was going to be released more than 12 hours prior to the actual release, which occurred on July 12, 2017, at 10:39 a.m.,” the spokesperson said. “Upon release from DSD custody, he was taken to a hospital. Releasing an individual from jail is a multi-step process that is sometimes affected by circumstances beyond our control, meaning DSD is not able to provide exact details of a release before it happens.”
It’s at least the second time this year there has been a dispute between ICE and DSD. In February, ICE said, something that was noted by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that a man who later allegedly murdered another man was released from Denver jail without the jail notifying ICE.
But DSD pushed back on that as well at the time. A spokesperson said, “Denver has never and will never advocate for felons to remain on our streets—immigrants or not.”
Another sheriff department spokesperson said as much Wednesday in regards to Lopez-Vera’s release.
“ICE is aware that the Denver Sheriff Department, like every other city in the state of Colorado, does not honor detainers without a criminal warrant because it is unconstitutional. Upon request, we notify ICE when we are releasing someone—so they can make their own arrest.”
Lopez-Vera remains in ICE custody pending his federal immigration hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. The agency hasn’t said when he entered the U.S. or in what manner.