Reports on escaped justice by deportation spurs meeting

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by By DAVID SCHECHTER / WFAA-TV

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

wfaa.com

Posted on November 10, 2009 at 4:25 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 12 at 12:09 PM

DEPORTING JUSTICE

David Schechter reports

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DALLAS - Every year dozens of murders and rapes go without prosecution, not because an arrest hasn't been made, but because the accused is a Mexican citizen.

It's estimated that as many as 128 accused murderers and more than 400 rapists have escaped justice through deportation since 1991.

But, after a News 8 investigation, steps are now being taken to change that.

High level law enforcement leaders from local and federal departments will meet Tuesday in response to News 8 reports on accused criminals who have been deported rather than prosecuted.

One Irving store owner knows all too well about North Texas justice when it comes to prosecuting those in the country illegally.

"It makes my heart break and my stomach hurt," said the owner, who did not want to be identified.

The jewelry repair business owner said over the summer, Mariela Villarreal-Charre, a former employee and Mexican citizen, was charged with stealing $10,000 worth of jewelry. The pieces were taken from the store, pawned and melted down.

But, instead of going to trial, which could have meant up to 10 years in jail if found guilty, Villarreal-Charre was released to federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). She has not been seen since.

"There's no consequence for what she did," the store owner said. "Why would she not do it again?"

That question could also be asked of Jose Adan Rico. He was charged with raping two teenage girls. But, prior to trial, he was released to ICE, loaded onto a federal bus and set free in Mexico.

News 8 found found Jose Tinajero also took that same trip. He was charged with sexually assaulting his stepdaughters, one of whom was four years old.

"I don't think there's enough communication between state and federal law enforcement," said David Finn, a former Dallas County judge.

When accused criminals who are in the country illegally are arrested, they pay their bonds and are then turned over to ICE. They are then deported regardless of pending charges.

Often, the district attorney's office has not been assigned to the case yet, which means no one is tracking the defendant's status.

Finally, magistrate judges have been releasing the bonding companies from their obligations, so there's no incentive to track down the defendant.

Following News 8 reports, the Dallas County district attorney and representatives from ICE, the Sheriff's Department and Dallas Police Department will meet Tuesday.

On the agenda, for the first time ever, will be proposals to seek justice when it comes to accused felons going to trial rather than getting on a bus to Mexico.

"I don't think it's complicated," Finn said. "That's my opinion."

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