Both men accused of a horrific gang-related murder in the Seattle area last week are illegal immigrants, ICE said Thursday, heaping more attention on the region’s sanctuary city policies.
The Washington Times had already reported on Carlos Daniel Iraheta-Vega, a member of MS-13 who was released in defiance of a deportation-assistance request by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and now stands accused of taking a baseball bat to the head and body of high school student, killing him.
Now ICE says Rudy Osvaldo Garcia-Hernandez, accused of taking a machete to the teen, chopping off an arm and a leg and hacking at his neck, is also an illegal immigrant with a lengthy criminal record and ties to Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13.
The murder of Juan Carlos Con Guzman, the popular high school teen, has become a flashpoint in the sanctuary city debate. It follows another gang-related murder in King County, Washington, that also involved an illegal immigrant that authorities refused to turn over to ICE.
Both killings stemmed from gang beefs, with insults and challenges being traded on Snapchat accounts, leading to fistfights.
Prosecutors say Mr. Iraheta-Vega and Mr. Garcia-Hernandez brought the bat and machete to their fight, planning all along to kill Juan Carlos. Both men admitted their role in the slaying to detectives, according to court documents.
“The defendants beat the victim with a baseball bat and mercilessly chopped his neck repeatedly with a machete before dismembering the body,” prosecuting attorney Mary H. Barbosa told a judge. “The extraordinary brutality of this crime demonstrates the threat the defendants pose to the community.”
In the wake of the killings, King County officials have defended their policies and complained that ICE, by pointing out the connection between the sanctuary policies and the murders, is harassing the county.
King County Executive Dow Constantine said ICE was “seeking to sow fear and division” by revealing the immigration histories of the murder suspects.
He said he’s seen studies that show no correlation between illegal immigration and crime.
But Homeland Security officials say statistics are irrelevant to these cases, where there’s concrete proof that if the local authorities had cooperated, crimes could have been prevented.
“You’re talking about literally crimes that never should have happened in this country because they’re people who, upon their first interaction with the justice system, should have been deported,” acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli told reporters this week.