Pitkin County Courthouse ICE arrest likely a first
The arrest of a Carbondale man by immigration officers this week at the Pitkin County Courthouse appears to be the first time in decades that such an arrest has occurred inside the downtown Aspen building, sources said Friday.
“I’m not sure we’ve ever seen that — somebody being arrested (by ICE agents) before a court hearing,” Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, who’s worked in law enforcement in the area for 33 years, said Friday.
One of the employees at the Pitkin County Clerk’s Office, who’s worked in the building for more than three decades, also said she couldn’t recall immigration officers ever making an actual arrest at the courthouse.
Two Glenwood Springs-based Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers notified the Sheriff’s Office early Monday they planned on making an arrest that morning before or after a court hearing, DiSalvo said. The sheriff said he offered assistance, though the two agents declined any help.
It turned out they were looking for Enrique Garcia Hernandez, 48, who was facing two counts of felony theft for an incident in April and another last month. However, one of those counts was about to be dismissed because the prosecutor in the case dropped the September theft charge.
That’s because Hernandez turned himself in to police in late September after seeing a newspaper article about his being charged with stealing a load of copper scrap from the driveway of a home in Snowmass Village, according to court records. He then spoke with police officers and told them another man sold him the approximately $3,000 worth of scrap for $600, the records state.
Police were able to track down the other man and charge him with theft, which led to the prosecutor dropping the latest case Monday after Hernandez’s arrest.
Hernandez’s original case stemmed from the alleged theft of cash and jewelry from a home near Basalt he was helping remodel in the spring.
Paperwork associated with Hernandez’s arrest was not available Friday, though an ICE spokesman in Washington D.C. said by email Hernandez was arrested for violating U.S. immigration laws. Hernandez was being held Friday at an ICE detention center in Denver, according to online ICE records.
DiSalvo said he doesn’t object to the ICE officers’ actions.
“They were well within their rights to do everything they did,” he said. “They did nothing wrong and were totally appropriate.”
The arrest is “outside the box” of DiSalvo’s outspoken support last year for immigrants as the Trump administration began more aggressively enforcing immigration law, he said.
ICE wasn’t asking him to release someone from county custody into their custody, they weren’t asking to hold someone in the Pitkin County Jail and they weren’t conducting a raid on a business and taking away 20 or 30 people, he said. All those things he would refuse to do or refuse to assist with, DiSalvo said.
“If they’re getting a bad person out of our community, then it’s OK with me,” DiSalvo said.