Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has repeatedly assured us little citizens that violent criminals were her agency’s top priority. But it’s apparently difficult to enforce the law only part of the time. As a result, we have seen failures such as the case of Sister Denise Mosier, killed by a drunk-driving illegal alien with priors who had been released from jail rather than deported.
Now we learn that an important witness, illegal alien Luis Acosta, in the dragging death of young Matthew Denice (pictured) in Milford, Massachusetts, cut off a tracking bracelet and may have escaped to Ecuador. Acosta was a passenger in the truck driven by Nicolas Guaman when he dragged Denice for a quarter mile, killing him.
(Your humble correspondent does not understand why monitoring bracelets cannot be made that are sturdy enough to resist being cut off. And why wasn’t Acosta put on the no-fly list?)
Milford Police Chief Tom O’Loughlin said he was “beside himself” with anger at the ineptitude of ICE officials and their statement that the loss of Acosta was his problem, not theirs.
Local Democrat Representative Richard Neal was similarly irate and has demanded a thorough investigation.
In other news of the case, Nicolas Guaman was indicted on Friday for the crime.
Milford police, Rep. Neal turn ire toward Homeland Security, Milford Daily News, Oct 21, 2011
As police continue to search for a witness to the accident that killed Matthew Denice, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal released the letter he sent to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asking for a “top-down review” of policies that allowed the man to disappear.
Neal, D-2nd, yesterday echoed outrage expressed by Milford Police Chief Thomas O’Loughlin about a statement U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued Tuesday saying local jurisdictions, not the federal agency, are responsible for keeping track of witnesses in their criminal investigations.
“What is of significant concern is Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s inability to adequately share the most basic pieces of information with local law enforcement,” Neal wrote in his letter, which he sent yesterday on behalf of Denice’s family.
Police have said that on Oct. 1, Luis Acosta, 20, who was in the country illegally and lived at 10 Cherry St., Apt. 2, removed a tracking bracelet that ICE said it put on him while he waited for an immigration hearing.
Acosta was in the truck driven by Nicolas D. Guaman, 34, of 10 Cherry St., Apt. 1, when it struck Denice’s motorcycle on Aug. 20.
Local police didn’t learn that Acosta had cut off the monitoring bracelet until they asked ICE about Acosta, who had skipped a grand jury appearance Oct. 6, Neal wrote in his letter.
O’Loughlin and Neal questioned how this could happen in the post-9/11 world.
“In a time in history when we extol how we have built an extensive information-sharing network to counter terrorist activities, it alarms me that this policy failure is allowed to exist within the Department (of Homeland Security),” Neal wrote in his letter.
Police traced Acosta’s cellphone to JFK International Airport in New York.
Police found Acosta’s name on boarding manifest for a flight to Ecuador on Oct. 4, O’Loughlin said.
Police spoke by phone with Acosta on Wednesday after relatives gave Milford detectives a number. Police are in the process of acquiring search warrants to determine if the number is a landline or cellphone, and where it is located, O’Loughlin said.
“The conversations are not adversarial,” he said. “They’re fair discussions. For us, it’s just determining where he is.”
Acosta has not told the three Milford detectives working the case where he is, O’Loughlin said.
The chief said he doesn’t understand why Acosta wasn’t added to a no-fly list.
“Who controls no-fly lists? Homeland Security. Who does ICE fall under? Homeland Security,” he said.
O’Loughlin, who has said that ICE’s explanation “borders on irresponsibility,” said yesterday he is not upset with ICE field agents who work in Massachusetts.
“I have no issue whatsoever with supervisors or agents that work in this area,” he said. “We’ve worked with them for years. I know them on a first-name basis. … That press release came out of Washington, D.C. It’s an insult to the (Denice) family.”
State Rep. John Fernandes, D-Milford, and selectmen Chairman Dino DeBartolomeis said they support Neal’s push for an investigation.
Even if ICE wasn’t going to spend resources tracking Acosta, ICE officials should have realized Acosta was important to Milford Police.
DeBartolomeis said selectmen met in executive session for two hours with ICE agents Monday night. They discussed deportation policies and procedures and how the agency and town can move forward, DeBartolomeis said.
“Most people just can’t believe what happened,” he said. “Hopefully, the responses that (Neal) receives will be sufficient and will be accurate, and hopefully the agency can learn from the situation.”
Peter Boogaard, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said, “ICE will respond directly to Rep. Neal, not through the media.”