Rockville, MD – An illegal immigrant accused of raping a woman was released from the Montgomery County jail despite a U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) detainer that had been filed against him.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich signed an executive order into law in July that bannd ICE agents from entering secure areas of county jails, WJLA reported.
The law also prohibits all county employees from asking about the immigration status of people they come into contact with.
Under the new law, Montgomery County jail personnel can contact ICE when illegal immigrants post bond only if the suspect has been charged or convicted of a “serious crime” such as kidnapping, armed robbery, murder, or rape, and when ICE has also already filed an immigration detainer against the suspect, WJLA reported.
Detention center personnel are prohibited from detaining illegal immigrants for ICE, and are required to turn them loose as soon as their releases have been processed.
ICE agents are left to try to intercept the released offenders in unsecure areas as they are leaving the jail.
On Aug. 10, 25-year-old Salvadorian native Rodrigo Castro-Montejo was arrested on charges of second-degree rape and second-degree assault, WJLA reported
ICE filed an immigration detainer against Castro-Montejo on Aug. 12.
The following day, a Montgomery County employee called an off-duty ICE supervisor's phone at approximately 12 p.m. to let the agency know that the accused rapist was pending release.
The county said that no one answered, and that Castro-Montejo bonded out about six hours later.
ICE ultimately discovered that the supervisor the jail employee called wasn't just off-duty, but was “outside the area” on “travel status” at the time of the call, WJLA reported.
Jail personnel failed to contact anyone else at ICE, and ignored instructions on the detainer form that provided a 24-hour ICE phone number to help facilitate “good-faith communication efforts,” according to WJLA.
ICE said that the way Montgomery County handled the situation with Castro-Montejo was in violation of the county’s own policy.
The accused rapist’s alleged victim said that she and Castro-Montejo had been communicating on Snapchat, and that they decided to meet up when he traveled from Florida to Montgomery County to attend a wedding, WJLA reported.
She picked Castro-Montejo up from his hotel at approximately 11 p.m. on Aug. 9, and they spent the night drinking and dancing.
"After consuming these beverages, Victim A felt impaired and told Castro-Montejo she was drunk," according to court documents.
She said she ultimately blacked out, and that Castro-Montejo was raping her when she regained consciousness, WJLA reported.
"Victim A noticed she was naked from the waist down and immediately jumped off the bed and took a shower in the bathroom," according to court documents. "Victim A gathered her clothing quickly and exited the hotel in search of her vehicle."
She immediately drove herself to the hospital and underwent a sexual assault forensic examination.
The victim then texted Castro-Montejo with a detective present, and asked him about what occurred, WJLA reported.
“I’m sorry too for what happen,” the accused rapist responded.
He said that he drove the victim’s vehicle back to the hotel at approximately 2 a.m.
“I obviously wasn't going to let you drive home so I thought it would be better if you slept it off or something,” Castro-Montejo wrote, according to WJLA.
The victim then asked him if he only touched her genitals, or if he also had sexual intercourse with her.
"Oo a little bit of both to be honest," Castro-Montejo allegedly replied, according to WJLA. "I'm sorry...I hope this doesn't ruin our friendships."
He was arrested hours later.
Montgomery County District Court Judge Rand Gelber ordered that the illegal immigrant be held on $10,000 bond, and he was released after a woman posted $1,000 surety, WJLA reported.
Castro-Montejo initially said that he wanted to speak with the news outlet in order to “clear his name,” but backed out of the interview after speaking with his attorney.
He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted, and is due back in court on Sep. 6, WJLA reported.
This isn’t the first time that Montgomery County has released an illegal immigrant without notifying ICE.
In 2015, Montgomery County jail officials released Guatemalan national Roberto Garza Palacios after they decided the ICE detainer request lacked sufficient probable cause, The Washington Post reported.
The illegal immigrant was arrested in Montgomery County again two year later, in August of 2017. He was charged with possession of controlled dangerous substance, but the prosecutor dropped the charges and released him, the Germantown Pulse reported.
That December, Palacios crashed his vehicle into Maryland State Police Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office Deputy Chief Sander Cohen and Federal Bureau of Investigation Supervisory Special Agent Carlos Wolff, killing them both.
Agent Wolff had been involved in a crash with his personal vehicle, and Chief Cohen stopped to assist him.
Police said that Chief Cohen turned on his emergency flashers and positioned his vehicle to block off Wolff’s damaged one while he called officers for assistance, WTTG reported.
Investigators said that Agent Wolff and Chief Cohen were both standing outside their vehicles in the left emergency lane talking when Palacios came upon the scene.
Palacios, 28, told police he was in the left lane and tried to change lanes to avoid the stopped cars, but was blocked by traffic. So instead, he tried to go left around the vehicles.
He swerved left and hit both Agent Wolff and Chief Cohen, throwing them over the median’s dividing barrier and into oncoming traffic on the southbound side of the freeway, WTTG reported.
Chief Cohen died at the scene. Agent Wolff was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Montgomery County officials declared their jurisdiction a “sanctuary” in January of 2017, after then newly-elected President Donald Trump announced his executive order on border security.
“Montgomery County is committed to building and maintaining a safe and inclusive community for our residents. Understanding, tolerance, and respect are hallmarks of the Montgomery County way. Social justice for all is what we strive to achieve in our County,” the statement read.
“It is longstanding County policy that County police do not enforce federal immigration law. Neither will they inquire about immigration status when individuals are stopped nor target individuals based on their ethnicity, race, or religious beliefs,” the county said at the time.