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ICE: 'Sexual predator' in the US illegally released twice by 'sanctuary' city despite detainer

Immigration enforcement agents say Philadelphia leaders are putting their city at risk.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

PHILADELPHIA — Federal immigration authorities say police released a "sexual predator onto the streets" at least twice despite a government detainment order against him.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Hector Moran-Espinoza the day before Thanksgiving. A spokesperson says he's a Guatemalan man in the United States illegally -- accused of sexually abusing children.

Back in April, Moran-Espinoza was arrested by the Philadelphia Police Department for several sex-related charges. In May, he was arrested again by Philadelphia officers for unlawful contact with children.

Each time, ICE lodged immigration detainers on Moran the same day. But, each time, the agency claims the Philadelphia Police Department didn't honor the detainers and "released this predator onto the streets."

“We are seeing politicians put their political agendas above the safety of the citizens they serve,” ICE Philadelphia Field Office Director Simona Flores-Lund wrote in a statement. “The victims in this case are young children, whose lives are now forever changed. This monster was released not once, but twice, without notifying ICE. We are committed to strengthening our relationship with local law enforcement, as we want nothing more than to keep our communities safe.” 

As Reuters reports, Philadelphia has been described as a "sanctuary city" and even won a federal appeal earlier this year over an effort by President Donald Trump's administration to withhold grants to the city for its refusal to cooperate with immigration agents trying to deport people in the U.S. illegally.

"When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release a criminal alien onto the streets, it negatively impacts public safety," ICE wrote.

According to ICE, Moran-Espinoza is accused of:

  • involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion
  • unlawful contact with a minor - sexual offenses
  • statuary sexual assault
  • endangering the welfare of children
  • corruption of minors
  • indecent assault-without the consent of another person
  • indecent assault of a person under 13 years of age
  • reckless endangerment of another person
  • rape by forcible compulsion
  • sexual abuse of children-photographing, videotaping, depicting on a computer or filming sexual acts
  • aggravated indecent assault without consent

10News reached out to the Philadelphia Police Department for comment on the matter. A public affairs officer deferred comment to the mayor's office.

A city spokesperson released the following statement to 10News:

"The City of Philadelphia has always cooperated with ICE when that agency goes before a judge and obtains a federal arrest warrant. This is not burdensome and ICE has, in fact, obtained such warrants on several occasions. In other words, we fully comply with federal law. The reality is that the White House has tried to coerce cities like Philadelphia into going beyond federal law. That is where we draw the line in terms of cooperation. Research has shown that trust between officers and immigrant communities is essential to reducing crime and helping victims. Our policy -- which has been upheld by a federal judge -- ensures that trust, while still honoring judicial warrants."

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