Mexican Gang Member Passes Away In ICE Custody


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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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A criminal alien with a history of alcohol abuse passed away while in hospital care shortly after being apprehended by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Roberto Rodriguez-Espinoza, a 37-year-old Mexican national, died Tuesday after being admitted into a hospital in Winfield, Illinois, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed in a statement on Thursday. While the death marks the eighth migrant to pass away in ICE custody this fiscal year, details indicate that his illness was not caused by the agency.

A member of the violet Latin Kings gang in Chicago, Rodriguez-Espinoza carried a criminal past: A 2008 conviction for theft and a 2016 conviction burglary. He was apprehended by ICE on September 3 and later housed at the McHenry County Adult Correctional Facility in Woodstock, an Illinois town roughly 50 miles from Chicago.

On the same day of his arrest, Rodriguez-Espinoza admitted during his intake screening that he consumed alcohol on a daily basis, according to the ICE statement. Staff members noticed he was acting “confused” on September 7 and ordered he be taken to Northwestern Medicine Woodstock Hospital for an evaluation. The hospital transferred him to Northwestern Medicine Huntly Hospital via ambulance the very next day, and he was subsequently diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage.

A common area and cell room doors are seen inside ICE's Caroline Detention Facility in Bowling Green, Virginia, on August 13, 2018. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

A common area and cell room doors are seen inside ICE’s Caroline Detention Facility in Bowling Green, Virginia, on August 13, 2018. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Rodriguez-Espinoza was then transferred again, this time to Central DuPage Hospital for a neurosurgery consult. After failing to respond during a neurological exam, the attending neurosurgeon determined that he would not likely survive surgery.

The 37-year-old Mexican national died Tuesday, with attending physicians identifying his preliminary cause of death as a subdural hematoma, which is a buildup of blood outside the brain.

It’s not yet clear what caused Rodriguez-Espinoza’s subdural hematoma, but the ICE statement strongly suggest that it was caused by his heavy consumption of alcohol. While the condition is typically caused by trauma to the head, alcoholics are more prone to subdural hematoma because drinking large quantities of alcohol over a long period of time can shrink the brain and make its blood vessels more susceptible to damage. (RELATED: Trump Administration Expands ‘Remain In Mexico’ Program For Asylum Seekers)

Rodriguez-Espinoza’s death marks the eighth migrant to die in ICE custody this fiscal year. The agency noted that the number of deaths is a minuscule fraction compared to number of illegal migrants that pass through their facilities.

“ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of this incident, as it does in all such cases. Fatalities in ICE custody, statistically, are exceedingly rare and occur at a small fraction of the rate of the U.S. detained population as a whole,” the agency said in a Thursday statement.

ICE, according to its statement, spends over $260 million a year on a multitude of health care services for those in its custody.

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