Jose Antonio Ontiveros plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter this week, the third illegal alien to be convicted in the 2008 death of Omar Florencio Vazquez. Santos Ontiveros plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter in March, receiving an effective two year sentence and a one-way trip back to his home country, and Sebastian Cortez-Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and has been sentenced to 63 years in prison. All are subject to immigration detainers and will be deported when they’ve served their sentences here.
What has confounded me about this case was the lack of prosecution for gang participation, which carries a five year mandatory sentence. This murder bore all the hallmarks of gang activity from the way the incident was described and by the way that every witness in the case seemed to have either refused to testify or departed the country. I’ll give authorities the benefit of the doubt here that perhaps the way they investigated and prosecuted this case was designed to support gang suppression activities by law enforcement, but it seems unusual that the big stick of convicting murderers in what by all appearances was a case of (perhaps mistakenly initiated) gang activity didn’t result in charges under Virginia’s tough anti-gang laws.
Recently federal authorities rounded up 30 illegal alien gang members in a sweep of Northern Virginia on July 20th, nabbing members of MS-13, the South Side Locos and the Mexican Pride gang. About a week later ICE rounded up 57 illegal aliens, many with convictions for Level 1 crimes that include murder, rape and kidnapping, including some MS-13 gang members. The issue of foreign nationals here illegally engaging in gang violence in Virginia is a serious problem, and each conviction under anti-gang statutes helps to deter the growth of trans-national gangs like MS-13. At every opportunity, we need to use these tools even if that means that taxpayers are going to have to host illegal alien gang-bangers in our prisons longer before they’re deported.
If the federal authorities aren’t going to enforce immigration laws because they’re too burdensome (according to the Justice Department), we have to use every tool we can bring to bear at the state and local level that can help address the impact of illegal aliens on our communities. I really hope we are, but it doesn’t always seem to be the case.
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