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Press Release

Department Of Justice Taking Steps To Combat Dangerous And Unlawful Polices Of “Sanctuary Jurisdictions”

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Utah
Cooperation Between ICE And Local Law Enforcement Agencies Is Working In Utah

SALT LAKE CITY – U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr highlighted steps the Department of Justice is taking to combat the dangerous and unlawful practices of “sanctuary jurisdictions” in a speech at the National Sheriffs’ Association Winter Legislative and Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., late Monday afternoon.  Utah’s U.S. Attorney John W. Huber shares those concerns, but says continued communication, cooperation and a shared commitment to protect Utah communities from criminal conduct is working in ICE cases in Utah.

“Let us state the reality upfront and as clearly as possible: When we are talking about sanctuary cities, we are talking about policies that are designed to allow criminal aliens to escape.  These policies are not about people who came to our country illegally but have otherwise been peaceful and productive members of society.  Their express purpose is to shelter aliens whom local law enforcement has already arrested for other crimes.  This is neither lawful nor sensible,” the Attorney General said in his remarks to the Sheriffs Association. “It is not lawful because the Constitution vests the federal government with the sole authority to make and enforce immigration law,” the Attorney General said Monday.

“In 2017, I spoke from the podium in the White House Press Briefing Room regarding unwise sanctuary policies across the nation.  I was reminded of those concerns as I listened to the remarks Attorney General Barr shared with sheriffs Monday afternoon,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said. “Removing unnatural impediments to cooperation between local and federal law enforcement will help keep our neighborhoods safe,” Huber said today.

“Each year my office prosecutes hundreds of criminal aliens with extensive criminal records and, in many cases, multiple previous deportations.  We find these criminals back in Utah committing new crimes. If these offenders are released from local jails into our communities without coordinating with federal officers, there is no question our communities will be less safe.  Unlike some areas around the country, we have the support and cooperation of Utah law enforcement agencies as we all work together to protect Utah communities,” Huber said.

According to Huber, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City filed 42 illegal re-entry of previously removed alien cases in January of this year. The overwhelming majority of the defendants in these cases were illegal aliens found in local jails. 

“Cooperation between law enforcement agencies and ICE is in the best interest of the residents of Utah,” said Robert Culley, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations field director in Salt Lake City. “Let me be clear, we target specific individuals, not random immigrants in our communities. These criminal aliens come to our attention specifically because they have been arrested and booked by local law enforcement following the alleged commission of a crime. Allowing criminal aliens to be released to the streets puts our communities in avoidable potential danger.”

Examples of Utah cases include: 

U.S. v Luis Fernando Bueso-Romero: A federal complaint filed Feb. 5, 2020, charges Bueso-Romero with damaging a building by means of fire.  The complaint charges him in connection with a Feb. 1, 2020, fire at the Overlook Point Apartments in West Valley City. At about 8:25 p.m. that day, West Valley Fire and Police Departments were dispatched to a fire at the apartments.  They found an eight-unit apartment building engulfed in flames. Two residents had to evacuate by jumping off second story balconies.  The investigation led police officers to Bueso-Romero, a citizen of Honduras living illegally in the United States. Police officers took him into custody and booked into the county jail for attempted murder, aggravated arson, criminal trespass, and causing a catastrophe.  Federal authorities filed a detainer with the jail. The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed federal charges Feb. 5 and brought him into federal custody.  He faces up to 20 years in federal prison with a five-year minimum mandatory sentence if he is convicted of the charges in the complaint.  His next court hearing is Feb. 20, 2020.

U.S. v Roberto Miramontes Roman – Roman is an armed drug dealer who boasted that he would kill a law enforcement officer to stay out of jail.  He was previously deported to Mexico after being convicted of two felony drug offenses. On both occasions, he was found in possession of cocaine and firearms.  After deportation, he twice re-entered the country illegally.   On Jan. 5, 2010, he was stopped by Millard County Sheriff’s Deputy Josie Greathouse Fox on suspicion of drug trafficking.  He had just sold methamphetamine and was armed with a handgun and a semi-automatic rifle.  To avoid being apprehended, Roman intentionally shot and killed Deputy Fox. Following a state trial in the case, a federal grand jury charged Roman with intentionally killing a local law enforcement officer to avoid apprehension for a felony drug crime, drug trafficking offenses, firearms violations, and illegal re-entry by a previously removed alien.  A jury convicted him on all counts.  In May 2017, Roman was sentenced to life in prison plus 80 years in federal prison.

U.S. v Geronimo Cuara – Cuara had two previous removals from the United States – one on Aug. 9, 2012, and a second on Sept. 29, 2018.  Prior to his removal in September 2018, he was convicted in Utah of possession of a firearm by an illegal alien and illegal re-entry of a previously removed alien.  He was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and one year of supervised release.

A few short months after his last conviction and removal, Cuara was back in Salt Lake County. On the Sunday evening, May 27, 2019, during Memorial Day weekend, many people were outside in their front yards celebrating a holiday weekend.  Cuara was walking down the street when he pulled out a gun and began firing multiple shots into the air.  Several people initially believed the shots were fireworks, but then realized what was actually happening.  People grabbed their children and ran for cover inside their houses. 

 Residents of the neighborhood were in fear for their safety.  Cuara walked a short distance and again removed the gun from his waistband, pointed it in the air, and fired several more shots. This was not new behavior for him. His prior conviction for illegal firearm possession was for the same conduct – using the firearm to shoot bullets into the air. 

He was charged in a two-count indictment with felon in possession of firearm and illegal re-entry of a previously removed alien. He pleaded guilty to both counts and was sentenced to 46 months prison and three years of supervised release.  He also received an eight-month sentence for his supervised release violation.  Four months of that sentence will run consecutive to his new 46-month sentence. 

U.S. v Harlin Colindres-Ramos:  Ramos is an illegal alien with four previous deportations from the United States. Less than a year after his most recent removal, Ramos was discovered back in the United States. 

“Please don't kill me. I have kids.”  The victim's plea was in vain, as Harlin Ramos stabbed him eight times, including a fatal thrust to the heart. In April 2014, according to reports and court records, Joaquin Gonzalez had just left a movie when a complete stranger stabbed him to death.  Gonzalez and a woman left the Gateway movie theater about 1:20 a.m. and returned to a car at 515 W. 100 South. Ramos was selling drugs in the area.  He opened Gonzalez's passenger-side door, according to an arrest affidavit. Ramos and Gonzalez started fighting, during which time Ramos began stabbing Gonzalez.  Ramos ultimately fled the scene.  Despite aid from emergency responders, Gonzalez died at the scene. Officers eventually found Ramos at a motel near 1500 W. North Temple. They also found Ramos’ backpack, cellphone, and identification card at the scene.  Bloodstained clothing, with Gonzalez’s DNA on it, was found in the room. 

Ramos was convicted in state court of murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life.  The United States Attorney’s Office also filed federal charges for illegal re-entry of previously removed alien. The federal case is pending.


Updated February 11, 2020