Mexican authorities confirmed the existence of a murder warrant for an illegal immigrant who was arrested in southern California as he was taking his pregnant wife to the hospital.
Joel Arrona Lara, 35, is wanted for “intentional homicide” — the equivalent of murder — in the Mexican state of Guanajuato, The Associated Press reported Monday, citing a state official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The official said Mexican prosecutors had asked U.S authorities to help locate and detain Arrona Lara, but did not say when the alleged murder occurred.
Arrona Lara was detained by immigration authorities Wednesday at a gas station in San Bernardino, California. At the time, he was taking his pregnant wife, Maria del Carmen Venegas, to the hospital for a scheduled cesarean section.
News of the arrest quickly spread nationally, and some media outlets characterized it as an example of the Trump administration’s cruel crackdown on otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants. In post-arrest interviews with local media, Venegas insisted that Arrona Lara had never been stopped by police and didn’t have a criminal record of any kind, including traffic violations.
As The Daily Caller News Foundation first reported, however, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrested Arrona Lara pursuant to an outstanding murder warrant in Mexico. (RELATED: Illegal Immigrant Arrested Driving Wife To Hospital Is Wanted For Murder In Mexico)
“Mr. Arrona-Lara was brought to ICE’s attention due to an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges,” ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley told TheDCNF in a statement Saturday.
Following the arrest, Venegas drove herself to the hospital and gave birth as scheduled. Arrona Lara’s lawyer, Emilio Amaya Garcia, accused ICE officers of “insensitivity” in making the arrest when and where they did.
“The main concern is the fact that the ICE officers decided to leave her [there] despite the fact she was in a delicate medical state — on the way to the hospital to give birth by cesarean section,” he told Univision on Sunday.
Arrona Lara and Venegas both immigrated illegally to the U.S. 12 years ago from Leon, a city in Guanajuato, the San Bernardino Sun reported. The couple has five children, all U.S citizens.
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment about when it was notified of the warrant for Arrona Lara’s arrest.
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