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Corruption Chronicles

Sheriff Keeps Campaign Promise to Protect Illegal Immigrants, Releases Violent Offenders

The elected official in charge of enforcing the law in North Carolina’s largest county has kept his campaign promise to protect illegal immigrants by releasing from custody numerous violent offenders rather than turn them over to federal authorities for removal. Among them is a previously deported Honduran charged with rape and child sex offenses. Because Mecklenburg County offers illegal aliens sanctuary, the perpetrator, 33-year-old Oscar Pacheco-Leonardo, was freed by the county sheriff despite his violent history. Thankfully, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently arrested him during a targeted enforcement operation.

The federal agency blasts officials in the North Carolina county of about 1 million, writing in a statement that by discharging a previously deported alien facing serious criminal charges, Mecklenburg County chose to release a serious public safety threat onto the streets of Charlotte where he was free to potentially harm others for nearly two months until his capture by ICE. “This is yet another example of a clear public safety threat being released onto the streets of Mecklenburg County rather than into ICE custody due to the current sheriff’s policy on ICE non-cooperation,” the agency’s regional director said. “The Mecklenburg County sheriff’s decision to restrict cooperation with ICE serves as an open invitation to aliens who commit criminal offenses that Mecklenburg County is a safe haven for persons seeking to evade federal authorities, and residents of Mecklenburg County are less safe today than last year due these policies.”

When Garry McFadden got elected sheriff in 2018, he immediately ended a program known as 287(g) that notified ICE of jail inmates in the country illegally. The program enhances the safety and security of communities by creating partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies to identify and remove aliens who are amenable to removal from the United States. It is a mutually beneficial agreement, ICE says, that identifies, arrests and serves warrants and detainers of incarcerated foreign-born criminals. The program has identified and removed from the U.S. gang members, sex offenders and murderers and has reduced the number of criminal offenders that are released back into communities. “Federal, state and local officers working together provide a tremendous benefit to public safety through increased law enforcement communication and overall community policing effectiveness,” according to ICE.

Nevertheless, a growing number of local municipalities offer illegal immigrants sanctuary and refuse to cooperate with federal authorities. The day after getting elected Sherriff, McFadden stopped cooperating with federal authorities as per his campaign promise. Pacheco-Leonardo is only one of many violent offenders who have been released recently from Mecklenburg County custody. More than 20 others have been discharged by McFadden’s agency, including rapists, child molesters, kidnappers, burglars, and those charged with gun-related and drug crimes. Most of the illegal immigrants are from Central America and Mexico, but a few are from India, Afghanistan, Liberia and Sri Lanka. All of them are men in the U.S. illegally and protected by the North Carolina county’s sanctuary policies which forces ICE to increase enforcement in those areas. “When law enforcement agencies don’t honor ICE detainers, these individuals, who often have significant criminal histories, are released onto the street, presenting a potential public safety threat,” the agency statement says. “When ICE Fugitive Operations officers have to go out into the community to proactively locate these criminal aliens, regardless of the precautions they take, it needlessly puts our personnel and potentially innocent bystanders in harm’s way.”

Just a few weeks ago Judicial Watch reported that various California law enforcement agencies released 16 illegal immigrants with criminal records during a three-month period. Some were arrested and released multiple times by the same local law enforcement agency after committing felonies. In all of the cases, ICE issued detainers but local police ignored the federal agency to protect the illegal alien from deportation, instead freeing the perpetrator back into the community. Offenders include Mexican, Honduran and Salvadoran nationals charged with murder, rape, assault with a deadly weapon, spousal abuse, driving under the influence of alcohol, possession of illegal drugs and other serious crimes. One 23-year-old Honduran man was booked and released in San Francisco ten times in less than a year for crimes ranging from burglary, vehicle theft and driving without a license. In each of the arrests, ICE issued a detainer but the San Francisco Police Department disregarded it and let the man go.