Essex County Sheriff issues response to ICE media release on Colombian national released on bail on rape and assault charges

Sheriff’s Department prohibited by law from holding a person on civil immigration detainer when court-issued bail conditions are met

In response to a press release issued by the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency on April 3, 2024, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department releases the following statement:

The Essex County Sheriff’s Department reviewed the details surrounding the February 17, 2024, release of a Colombian national charged with rape and indecent and assault and battery from its correctional facility after posting a $1,500 bail set by the courts.  

On February 6, 2024, the individual appeared in Lynn District Court where the cash bail was set by a judge. Following the court hearing, the individual returned to the Essex County Correctional Facility (ECCF) in Middleton where the person remained in custody until February 17. 

Shortly after 7:00PM on that date, an individual arrived at the ECCF ready to post bail for the Columbian national.  At 7:14 PM, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department notified Boston Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) of the potential release. The individual was bailed at approximately 8:00PM by a bail clerk assigned through the District Court.

In 2017, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in Commonwealth v. Lunn that  Massachusetts law provides no authority for Massachusetts law enforcement to arrest and hold an individual solely on the basis of a Federal civil immigration detainer, beyond the time that the individual would otherwise be entitled to be released from State custody.  Once the individual was bailed, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department had no authority to maintain custody of the individual without violating state law.   

The individual was eventually taken into custody by Boston ERO on March 28, 2024.

“We appreciate our law enforcement partners as we all strive for the same goal – to keep our communities safe. Public safety for all those who live, work, and/or travel through our county is and has always been our top priority,” said Essex County Sheriff Kevin F. Coppinger. “We not only enforce the law, but we are also mandated to operate within the law.”