An illegal immigrant MS-13 gang member the Obama administration had released on bond committed an unprovoked attack on a sheriff’s deputy, slugging the deputy as he worked on a traffic report while sitting in his car, the Frederick County, Maryland, sheriff’s department said Friday.
Jose Misael Reyes-Reyes, 18, had been arrested in May on weapons charges and in June on charges of malicious destruction of property, but federal immigration authorities had left him free on bond while he awaited a deportation hearing, the sheriff’s office said.
Given his age, Mr. Reyes-Reyes was potentially part of the recent surge of illegal immigrant children that overwhelmed the Border Patrol over the last few years, and who have now been shipped to communities across the country.
Mr. Reyes-Reyes came upon Deputy First Class Greg Morton Thursday morning as the deputy was in his marked police vehicle finishing up an accident report. The sheriff’s office said Mr. Reyes-Reyes began banging on a back window of the vehicle, and when Deputy Morton turned to look the man reached through the half-open window and slugged the deputy in the face.
Even after Deputy Morton got Mr. Reyes-Reyes under control and handcuffed him, but man tried to escape, kicking the deputy again, the sheriff’s office said.
Mr. Reyes-Reyes is “a validated MS-13 gang member,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha-13, is an international gang started by Salvadorans in Los Angeles in the 1980s. It expanded operations to Central America after many of its leaders were deported, and has since spread across the U.S., including a particular presence in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., which has been the destination for many Central American immigrants.
It’s unclear why Mr. Reyes-Reyes was out on bond, given the priority Homeland Security officials say they place on going after illegal immigrant gang members.
The sheriff’s office said he’d been caught by the Border Patrol but released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement while awaiting his deportation hearing.
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Frederick Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said he was worried the unprovoked assault was part of a growing trend of violence against police.
“The current climate is placing a great amount of stress on law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties. This could have been a more serious situation and it should be noted that [Deputy] Morton demonstrated great restraint in his reaction to the attack by Reyes-Reyes,” the sheriff said.
The assault came the same day that investigators in Loudoun County, Va., revealed that a 17-year-old charged with murdering a high school classmate was an MS-13 member known as “the Enforcer of Sterling” for his violent gang behavior.
The investigators said the killing was an apparent retaliation for after MS-13 members concluded the victim, 17-year-old Danny Centeno-Miranda, left El Salvador to escape MS-13 but joined rival 18th Street Gang when he got to Loudoun.
Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said the Frederick County case shows just how tough matters have become for police, who now have a population of young adults from Central America, many of whom arrived in the surge and have been knowingly released into the country.
“This attack shows the risk that the Obama administration is creating with its hands-off immigration enforcement policies, in particular their failure to take action against the young Central American arrivals and their policy to wait for aliens to be convicted of violent crimes before they seek deportation,” she said.
“Reyes should have been deported as soon as he was caught but instead he was released into Maryland, racks up a couple of arrests, is known to be a gang member, and still ICE takes no action, instead he is given much more generous due process than he deserved,” she said.
She said it was even more troubling because Frederick County had signed an agreement with ICE to enforce immigration laws under the 287(g) program, but the Obama administration has curtailed use of that program in response to criticism from illegal immigrant advocacy groups.