Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, May 21, 2019
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced Tuesday that it had sought custody of two MS-13 members accused of beating and stabbing a 14-year-old girl to death in Maryland last month.
Josue Fuentes-Ponce, 16, of Bladensburg, Md. and Joel Escobar, 17, of Northeast Washington D.C , both natives of El Salvador, were arrested by Prince George’s County (Md.) police last week and charged as adults with first-degree murder in the death of Ariana Funes-Diaz, whose body was found in a creek May 15.
In a statement, ICE said it had lodged a detainer with the Prince George’s County Detention Center in May 2018 after Fuentes-Ponce and Escobar were arrested and charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, participation in gang activity, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted robbery, among other offenses. However, the agency said both were released “on an unknown date and time without notification to ICE.”
“These individuals had demonstrated violent criminal behavior before, and because they were released in spite of the lawful detainer, they were afforded an opportunity to take a life.” ICE Baltimore Field Office Director Diane Witte said in the statement.
Investigators say Funes-Diaz was killed on April 18 by Fuentes-Ponce, Escobar, and 14-year-old Cynthia Hernandez-Nucamendi to prevent her from informing police about a robbery the four had taken part in the day before.
According to ICE, Fuentes-Ponce crossed into the U.S. in December 2015 “as part of a family unit” in Texas. An immigration judge ordered his removal in absentia in March 2017. Escobar was taken into custody as an unaccompanied juvenile in August 2016 near McAllen, Texas and was later released to a family member in the Washington D.C. area.