13 illegal immigrants detained near Wolcott | PostIndependent.com

13 illegal immigrants detained near Wolcott

Steve Lynn
Vail Correspondent
Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

WOLCOTT ” A van with 13 illegal immigrants was pulled over Monday morning, leading to the arrest of a smuggler who had been deported from the United States 14 times, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said.

A sheriff’s deputy stopped a silver Chevrolet van headed east on Interstate 70 about 8:20 a.m. because the name of the state on the license plate was covered by a plastic border, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Israel Robles-Gaytan, 22, was taking 12 illegal immigrants ” several of whom may have been from Mexico ” to Denver, Iowa and Georgia, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Robles-Gaytan’s charges include human smuggling, a felony, the Sheriff’s Office said. This is the third time the Sheriff’s Office has made immigration arrests in the last month, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Another illegal immigrant, Silvestre Bermudez, 37, gave the sheriff’s deputy a false identification card and driver’s license, the Sheriff’s Office said.

He was arrested and charged with possession of a forged instrument, a felony, and second-degree forgery, a misdemeanor, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Both men are being held in Eagle County jail, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The 11 other people have been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement pending deportation, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Eagle County District Attorney’s Office decided not to prosecute another case where two men had been accused of smuggling illegal immigrants through Eagle County Feb. 10, authorities said.

Sheriff’s deputies did not have a valid reason to stop the minivan, Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said. Also, nobody in the minivan said whether they had paid the accused smugglers for their transportation.

“We didn’t feel we could prove the case,” Hurlbert said. Hurlbert did not know whether the accused smugglers or illegal immigrants had been deported.

“Generally that’s what happens,” he said. “They would be deported.”

Shannon Cordingly, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office, called enforcing state immigration law a “learning process.”

“It was not for lack of trying, I can tell you that,” Cordingly said about enforcing the human smuggling law Feb. 10.

The Sheriff’s Office plans to have more meetings on how to enforce state immigration law, she said.

Two other men were charged with smuggling illegal immigrants into Eagle County in January, the first time local authorities had leveled that charge in the county’s history, authorities said.

Local authorities developed a policy in December that lets them enforce state immigration law passed more than a year ago. In the past, they have complained about the difficulty of enforcing that law.

Under the new policy, people who smuggle illegal immigrants into Eagle County will be prosecuted. Clear Creek County, which Hurlbert also serves, was the first county in Colorado to do that, Hurlbert has said.

Eagle County’s new policy lets prosecutors depose, or get witnesses’ versions of a smuggling incident, within 72 hours, after which Immigration and Customs generally deports them. The policy has helped better punish human smugglers in Summit and Clear Creek counties, Hurlbert said.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.

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