U.S. Attorney praises cooperation of Missouri state and local law enforcement agencies in combatting illegal immigration

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

United States Attorney Tim Garrison praised the cooperation of state and local law enforcement agencies in the Western District of Missouri today, as U.S. Attorney General William Barr addressed the problem of sanctuary cities elsewhere in the nation.

“We appreciate the cooperation in this district among state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies,” said Garrison. “We know that, unfortunately, some parts of the country don’t benefit from such cooperation. The partnership between law enforcement officers at all levels throughout the Western District of Missouri is essential to presenting a united front against illegal immigration and the drug trafficking and violent crime often associated with it.”

“Local law enforcement agencies are often our first line of defense,” Garrison added. “We count on them to coordinate with federal authorities who enforce immigration laws aimed at protecting our neighborhoods and keeping our communities safe.”

In a recent example, Independence, Missouri, police officers arrested Carlos Colato, a citizen of El Salvador, when they received reports of a man pointing a firearm at motorists. After taking him into custody and learning that he had an active immigration detainer, officers turned him over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO). Colato was recently charged in federal court with being a felon and an illegal alien in possession of a firearm. According to an affidavit filed in support of the Jan. 27, 2020, federal criminal complaint, Colato has illegally entered the United States on at least five separate occasions. Garrison noted this case is being handled by a cross-designated prosecutor from the Missouri Attorney General’s office as part of the Safer Streets Initiative to combat violent crime.

“Cooperation between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies is quite simply the most effective way of promoting public safety,” said Robert Guadian, field office director for ICE Chicago, which oversees Kansas City. “Sanctuary city policies simply don’t work. Instead of promoting public safety, sanctuary policies put the lives of our community’s residents at greater risk. The Western District of Missouri has no communities that identify as sanctuary jurisdictions, as such the public is more secure as a direct result of cooperation between law enforcement agencies in this district.”

Garrison cited several more examples of local and federal agency cooperation:

On Aug. 31, 2019, Pleasant Valley, Missouri, police officers arrested Rex Ruiz-Velazquez, a citizen of Mexico, on local charges related to a neighborhood disturbance. At the time of his arrest, Ruiz-Velazquez had a loaded Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol in his pickup truck. Ruiz-Velazquez, who has illegally entered the United States at least four times, was turned over to ICE-ERO agents and indicted last fall for being a felon in possession of a firearm and for illegally reentering the United States after having been deported.

Kansas City, Missouri, police officers responded to neighbors’ reports of gunshots on Aug. 5, 2018. They discovered that Juan Carlos Cuevas-Alvarez and Nestor K. Rodriguez, both citizens of Mexico who illegally entered the United States, had been shooting firearms in their back yard. Officers found a Cobray 9mm pistol, a Walther .380-caliber handgun, and a Sig Saur 9mm pistol at the residence. Officers also found 26 pounds of marijuana inside two black trash bags and more than $35,000 in cash. Cuevas-Alvarez and Rodriguez each pleaded guilty to being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm; Cuevas-Alvarez also pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana to distribute. Cuevas-Alvarez was sentenced to four years and six months in federal prison without parole. Rodriguez was sentenced to three years and two months in federal prison without parole.

On Sept. 16, 2018, Riverside, Missouri, police officers arrested Miguel Angel Rodriguez-Vazquez for loitering but later learned he had illegally entered the United States from Mexico on five different occasions and had a prior drug-trafficking conviction. Rodriguez-Vazquez was sentenced last summer to almost five years in federal prison without parole.