An inmate held in a Texas jail on a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer was “inadvertently” released Tuesday, according to the county sheriff, who said police had no authority to rearrest the man.
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office confirmed to local news outlets it mistakenly released Ricardo Mujica, who was being held on an ICE detainer. Sheriff Javier Salazar said Mujica got into a line of individuals who were being released from the county jail when he should have been in a line of inmates who were going to be released to ICE officers.
Reportedly, Mujica was in the custody of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office following an assault charge and conviction for choking a family member. He was sentenced to four years of deferred adjudication; however, presently he was held in the Bexar County Jail because of the immigration hold.
Bexar County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Johnny Garcia told KENS that around 7 a.m. Tuesday Mujica left the facility without permission. He stated: “Mujica was downstairs in the booking area where those individuals were being released and where the ICE detainees were being picked up.” He said: “There’s a lot going on downstairs; inmates being picked up for court, paperwork coming in for court, and you have releases that are being processed.”
Garcia said the sheriff’s office will review the situation to figure out how this mishap happened. He said: “As a result of this release, internal affairs is beginning to look into the specifics of what specifically happened for this particular case.”
In a statement to KSAT, Salazar explained that Mujica “satisfied the conditions of his state charge and only the detainer remained.” He said since Mujica was no longer in the custody of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office “local officers have no authority to arrest or detain this person at this point. He is not considered an escapee.”
In 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 4, the toughest anti-sanctuary city law in the nation. Breitbart News reported that one key provision in the law called for criminal and civil penalties for Texas sheriffs and chiefs of police who failed to honor immigration detainers issued by ICE. It remains unclear if or how the law applies to Mujica’s accidental release from the Bexar County Jail.
It is also not known if ICE agents are looking for Mujica. An ICE representative told Fox News that it has 129 active fugitive operation teams across the U.S., including in San Antonio, all tasked with “identifying and arresting” illegal immigrants who appear to be a danger to others.