Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a statement this week criticizing King County for refusing to honor immigration holds on Jorge Alcantara-Gonzales, a 34-year-old murder suspect who was captured Sunday after a three-week manhunt off Blewett Pass.
Michael Melendez, an acting field office director for ICE in Seattle, said there were numerous opportunities to turn Alcantara-Gonzalez over to immigration agents.
“This is yet another example of a resource that our law enforcement partners could have used to keep a dangerous criminal off the streets, but instead chose not to honor our detainer and to release them to the community to reoffend instead.”
Alcantara-Gonzalez is suspected of killing of 41-year-old Ian Eckles of Kent, who was on his way to a turkey hunt in the Liberty area when he disappeared.
Searchers have not yet found Eckles’ body but said evidence indicates he was killed inside his vehicle and additional evidence in the vehicle links the killing to Alcantara-Gonzalez, the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office said.
In its statement, ICE documented the numerous times dating back to 2017 that Alcantara-Gonzalez was arrested for various crimes, then released, despite ICE detainers.
Between 2003 and 2013, Alcantara-Gonzalez, a Mexican citizen, was deported three separate times by the U.S. Border Patrol for being in the country illegally.
According to ICE:
On Dec. 26, 2017, Alcantara-Gonzalez was arrested for driving under the influence and taken to the King County Jail. He was released before ICE could take any action.
On Dec. 17, 2018, he was arrested by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department for failure to comply and taken to the Lewis County Jail. The following day, he was transferred to King County on a criminal warrant and detained at the King County Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.
On Dec. 20, 2018, ICE lodged an immigration detainer on Alcantara-Gonzalez with the facility but the center “failed to honor the immigration detainer and released him back into the community.”
On Dec. 24, 2018, he was arrested by the Seattle Police Department for theft of a motor vehicle and taken to the King County Jail. On the same day, ICE lodged an immigration detainer. Alcantara-Gonzalez was convicted of vehicle prowling in the second degree. “On an unknown date, the King County Jail failed to honor the immigration detainer and he was released back into the community,” ICE said.
On March 19, 2019, he was arrested by the Seattle Police Department for three counts of failure to comply and detained at the King County Jail. On March 21, 2019, ICE lodged an immigration detainer but the jail failed to honor it and he was released back into the community on a later date without prior notification to ICE.
On May 31, 2019, Alcantara-Gonzalez was convicted of the 2017 DUI charge in King County and sentenced to 364 days in jail, 363 suspended.
Alcantara-Gonzalez is currently in the Kittitas County Jail facing a murder charge, with yet another ICE detainer on him.
It’s not the first time ICE has expressed frustration with King County’s status as a “sanctuary county.”
Last year, after Julio Cruz-Velazquez, 25, was arrested for second-degree murder in Seattle, ICE said the county had been “reckless” in earlier releasing him after two arrests, despite an immigration detainer.
King County has a sanctuary law which prevents local law enforcement from sharing information with federal immigration officials.