Gang member, 2 others in country illegally arrested for possessing 2 kilos of meth

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — A Gaston County commissioner is frustrated that a registered member of a notorious gang with a reputation for violence was on the streets in Gaston County when he shouldn't have been in the country, to begin with.

Cristian Cabrera-Rivas, 36, of Charlotte, who has an extensive criminal record and is a documented member of the MS-13 gang, was one of the three people arrested in the U.S. illegally.

Gaston County police, state, federal and other local authorities arrested the trio as a result of a large-scale narcotics investigation.

They were accused of having 2 kilos of methamphetamine with a street value of $200,000, Gaston police said.

[Suspect accused of violent crime out of jail due to 287(g) ending]

The three suspects were taken into custody at Eastridge Mall in Gastonia Monday and several children, who are now in protective custody, were present during the arrest.

"It's my life and your life that's out here," Gaston County Commissioner Chad Brown said.

Cabrera-Rivas was charged in December with assault with deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, assault by pointing a gun, communicating threats and possession of a stolen gun. Cabrera-Rivas was recently charged with trafficking methamphetamine and is under a $275,000 bond, as well as an immigration hold at the Gaston County jail.

Brown said the jail is already strained housing prisoners at about $80 a day.

"This your tax dollars," Brown said. "We have to stop this, and the only way we can stop this is by having stronger immigration."

Silvia Hernandez-Iturralde, 29, of Ladson, South Carolina, was charged with trafficking methamphetamine and is under a $250,000 bond, as well as an immigration hold.

Marco Tulio Ramos Garcia, 28, of Ladson, South Carolina, had an outstanding deportation order when he was taken into custody.  He was charged with trafficking methamphetamine.  He is under a $250,000 bond and is also on immigration hold.

Brown wants to see law enforcement work harder to deport people who are in the U.S. illegally.

(From left: Garcia, Hernandez-Iturralde, Cabrera-Rivas)

Yisel Maren is an advocate with the Latin American Coalition, and she agreed that Cabrera-Rivas shouldn't be in the country illegally.

“We are not going to defend when (they come) to this country to harm people," Maren said.

She warned getting tough on immigration often means deporting people who are not a danger to others.

"The community is going to lose the trust we are trying to build," Maren said.

The three suspects are in jail and can expect deportation hearings.

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