Strawberry Days arrestee sentenced on local counts
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – One of the men arrested on local criminal charges and ultimately detained for immigration violations during a special gang enforcement operation on Strawberry Days weekend in June has been sentenced.
David Adrian Centeno, 25, of Glenwood Springs, pleaded guilty in late August to a felony charge of possessing forged or false identification, as well as a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.
He was sentenced in Garfield District Court Sept. 27 to two years of probation and 90 days in jail.
Centeno’s sentence will be deferred pending prosecution in federal court for allegedly re-entering the United States on multiple occasions over the past six years after he had been deported, according to court records.
Following the sentencing hearing, Centeno was released from the Garfield County Jail, where he had been since his June 18 arrest, to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
According to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, Centeno had previous run-ins with police on the Western Slope and was purportedly a “self-admitted” member of the Mexican-American street gang known as the Surenos.
Centeno was contacted as part of a joint gang enforcement operation at the Strawberry Days carnival in West Glenwood on June 18. According to police, the reason he was contacted was because he was wearing gang-related clothing, including a blue bandana.
When authorities learned who he was and that he was wanted on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear on a previous traffic violation, police attempted to place him under arrest.
“He was informed he was being placed under arrest by the Glenwood Springs Police Department,” Vallario said in a press release at the time of the incident. “At that time he resisted arrest and ran from officers.”
Centeno was soon apprehended and taken to the Garfield County Jail, where he was also placed on an immigration hold by ICE.
In addition to the warrants and a charge for resisting arrest, he was also found to be in possession of a false identification card, as well as a small amount of marijuana and related paraphernalia.
Centeno’s arrest was one of three that day as part of local law enforcement agencies’ cooperation with ICE’s Operation Community Shield Gang Task Force.
The operation was highly criticized at the time by the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), which claimed ICE violated its own policy to not conduct immigration operations in a public settings, especially where children and families are present.
Local immigration attorney Ted Hess recently filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the family of another man who was detained as part of the operation, Julio Alvarez-Cortez of Carbondale.
The lawsuit claims the operation was unconstitutional, and that gang enforcement was a guise for what ended up being an immigration sweep.
Vallario has defended the operation, saying its mission was to identify known or possible gang members and prosecute them.
He said at the time of the arrests that anyone at the carnival who was wearing gang-related clothing, such as bandanas or certain sports jerseys, was approached and asked to remove them. In Centeno’s case, authorities knew him to be a prior deportee with a history of gang involvement, and likely in the country illegally, Vallario said at the time.
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