Montgomery County, ICE spar over release of man charged with rape

Montgomery County, Maryland, is bucking heads again with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the release of an undocumented immigrant charged with rape.

The back and forth comes one month after a new law that County Executive Mark Elrich signed, which bans ICE agents from entering secure areas in county jails — forcing ICE agents to take custody of undocumented immigrants in unsecured areas, such as parking lots.

After it effectively limited the federal agency’s power, ICE has called into question how the county handled the release of a Salvadoran man.

Rodrigo Castro Montejo, 25, of Orlando, Florida, posted bail after he was charged with the second-degree rape and second-degree assault of a woman at a Rockville hotel, as first reported by WJLA-TV. The woman reported the Aug. 10 incident and said the two had corresponded over Snapchat, deciding to meet up when Castro came to Maryland for a wedding, according to charging documents.

He was arrested on Aug. 11. The following day, Montgomery County’s Department of Corrections received a detainer order on the Salvadoran man. Meanwhile, the court set bail, which Castro met.

“On Aug. 13, in spite of the detainer, the facility released Castro from custody,” ICE said in part in a statement.

However, the county said it did nothing wrong in releasing Castro.

“At 12 p.m. on Aug. 13, 2019, DOCR contacted ICE via telephone — using a number to a local ICE supervisor provided by that agency for notification purposes — in order to inform them that Castro Montejo was being processed for release that day,” Elrich spokesman Barry Hudson said in a statement.

ICE policies state facilities should notify it “as early as practicable (at least 48 hours if possible),” Elrich’s office pointed out, and there is no time frame required by ICE to report an inmate’s release.

The county provided a timeline that states it released Castro six hours after notifying the officer at noon on Aug. 13.

ICE confirmed that its officer was contacted, but that it was not notified.

“Officials with the Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation made an attempt to notify one off-duty officer, who was in a travel status outside of the area, prior to the release of Rodrigo A. Castro Montejo,” ICE said in a second statement.

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