CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Luis Pineda-Acheta, the man accused of causing a nine-hour standoff with SWAT team members before surrendering to police Thursday, should never have been out of custody this week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Channel 9.
ICE Atlanta Field Office Director Sean Gallagher said Pineda-Acheta was arrested May 15 by local law enforcement in Mecklenburg County on charges of felony larceny and assault on a female.
Gallagher said ICE issued a detainer for Pineda-Acheta, who he said is in the country illegally from Honduras.
Instead, Gallagher said, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office released Pineda-Acheta from custody on May 17 pending a court hearing. Gallagher said Pineda-Acheta assaulted the same victim again, which led authorities to issue another warrant to his arrest, eventually leading to Thursday’s lengthy standoff at an apartment unit inside the Aurea Station Apartments off Sharonbrook Road in Charlotte.
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Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden ended his department’s participation in the 287(g) program shortly after taking office. The program allows local sheriff’s offices to run immigrants' names through a national database and then notify ICE if a person is found to be in the country illegally.
Gallagher sparred publicly with McFadden and others in Charlotte in February, saying in part that the sheriff was to blame for what he promised would be increased federal enforcement in the Charlotte area when it comes to illegal immigration.
“Any local jurisdiction thinking that refusing to cooperate with ICE will result in a decrease in local immigration enforcement is mistaken,” Gallagher said. “Local jurisdictions that choose to not cooperate with ICE are likely to see an increase in ICE enforcement activity, as in jurisdictions that do not cooperate with ICE the agency has no choice but to conduct more at-large arrest operations.”
Gallagher didn’t mince words, laying the blame for what happened to Pineda-Acheta’s victim the second time squarely at McFadden’s feet.
“I spoke directly to this point late last year and warned that the noncooperation policy would result in preventable crimes of violence taking place in Mecklenburg County,” he said. “Sadly, but predictably, this has now taken place.”
The Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office declined to comment on Gallagher's remarks or Pineda-Acheta's detainer request.
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