Strawberry Days detainee receives year in prison
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – One of three men arrested as part of an interagency anti-gang enforcement operation during Strawberry Days weekend last summer has been sentenced to a year in federal prison for repeated immigration violations.
David Adrian Centeno, 26, was sentenced April 20 in U.S. District Court in Denver to 12 months and one day in the Bureau of Prisons. He is scheduled to be deported after serving the sentence, according to federal officials.
Centeno was arrested on June 18, 2011, as part of a joint gang enforcement operation at the Strawberry Days carnival, which was located in the Glenwood Springs Mall parking lot.
Local law enforcement agencies, including the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office’s Threat Assessment Group (TAG), cooperated with Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “Operation Community Shield” in carrying out the operation.
Police said Centeno and others who were contacted during the weekend were wearing gang-related clothing, such as bandanas or certain sports jerseys.
Authorities also knew Centeno to have had previous run-ins with Western Slope law enforcement. According to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, Centeno was a “self-proclaimed and validated gang member.”
In addition to having an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court on a traffic violation, Centeno was also wanted by ICE for illegally re-entering the United States on multiple occasions after he had been deported.
When police tried to place Centeno under arrest, he fled on foot but was apprehended after a short chase, according to police reports at the time. Once in custody, he was found to be carrying a false identification card, as well as a small amount of marijuana and paraphernalia.
Last August, Centeno pleaded guilty in Garfield County District Court to a felony charge of possessing forged or false identification and a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.
He was later sentenced to two years of probation and 90 days in jail, but was turned over to federal officials to answer to the immigration charges.
Centeno was indicted in September on a federal charge of illegal re-entry by a person with an aggravated felony conviction. He had previous convictions on felony weapons charges.
“TAG will continue to cooperate with all agencies necessary to disrupt and dismantle gang activity and the threat it brings to our communities,” Vallario said in a Wednesday press release announcing the latest prosecution and sentence for Centeno.
Centeno’s arrest during the Strawberry Days operation was one of three that day. The operation was criticized by the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), which said ICE violated its own policy to not conduct immigration operations in a public settings, especially where children and families are present.
A lawsuit has been filed by Glenwood Springs immigration attorney Ted Hess in federal court on behalf of the family of Julio Alvarez-Cortez, who was also detained by immigration officials as a result of the operation.
The lawsuit claims the operation was unconstitutional, and that gang enforcement was a guise for what ended up being an immigration sweep.
Vallario has maintained that the operation’s mission was to identify known or possible gang members and to prosecute them.
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