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On February 3rd, 2019, a preventable and brutal murder took place on a New York City subway platform involving rival gang members. The suspect who is now in custody, Ramiro Gutierrez, is a suspected MS-13 gang member. The victim is an alleged member of a local “18th Street” gang.

As you will hear in the video, the suspect shoots the victim six times in the face, after a physical altercation on the subway platform. You can see video of the fight and subsequent shooting here *graphic warning*:

As disturbing as this video is, one thing that immediately caught my attention, were reports stating the suspect was out on $2,500 bond when this shooting took place.

$2,500 bond despite being an identified MS-13 gang member!? We give MS-13 gang members $2,500 bond? Wow. Good to know.

But wait, there’s more. Not only is Gutierrez a member of a violent gang, he’s also undocumented and here illegally.

Oh I know. I’m wading into controversial territory here. Dare I mention ICE? You know, the federal agency that some politicians want abolished. As always, I’ll try to stick to the facts, instead of political fodder.

So the question remains, why wasn’t a “detainer” placed on Gutierrez after his arrest in December 2018? That is the standard procedure for someone charged with a felony, with a questionable immigration status. Let alone someone who is a member of an extremely violent gang. It only makes sense. Doesn’t it?

Go figure, that is exactly what happened. But not until he shot someone in the face six times on a crowded New York City subway platform.

According to an article published by ABC7NY, “ICE was one of the law enforcement agencies involved in 26-year-old Ramiro Gutierrez’s burglary arrest in December but then did not confirm that he was undocumented so he was freed on bail.”

Of course, the article goes on to say, “Only after his arrest earlier this week for the fatal shooting did ICE determine “he entered without inspection” at an unknown prior date. ICE has now placed a detainer on Gutierrez for possible deportation.”

So there’s the proof that this is what normally happens. It begs the question, why didn’t it happen in December 2018?

Political interference? Political pressure on ICE? ICE dropped the ball? I’m not above saying law enforcement could have made a mistake. Considering ICE was involved with the arrest in December 2018, the reason for not issuing a detainer at that time has to be an interesting one to say the least. There has to be an explanation or reason. Maybe we will get one, maybe not? We can speculate until the cows come home.

I don’t expect the judicial system to be perfect. I certainly realize people arrested for crimes have a right to be freed on bond before trial. I also recognize someone arrested for minor or non-violent crimes could be freed on bond and proceed to go on a murderous crime spree. We aren’t fortune tellers. If we were, we could prevent all crime.

I guess the question becomes, when do we take the criminal element seriously and put our safety above political cries to be lenient? I said my goal wasn’t to be political, doesn’t mean it’s entirely avoidable. I can’t help but wonder if political pressure played a role in the release of Gutierrez in December 2018.

Let me put it simply. If someone is arrested for a felony, AND they are identified as an active criminal street gang member, AND they aren’t here legally, that is PRECISELY when ICE should be involved and allowed to do their job. If their immigration status is cleared up, then and only then, should bond or bail even be entertained.

I believe this murder could have been prevented. The problem with certain political policies, especially those of lenience, is they have to be applied uniformly. Being concerned about bail being too expensive and disproportionately affecting the poor or minorities, makes sense, I get it. It’s certainly an issue worthy of discussion and future corrective action.

However, given the mitigating circumstances involving Mr. Gutierrez, certain procedures should have been followed preventing his release. This particular case isn’t about race, ethnicity, or financial status, it’s about criminality. When you are a member of a criminal street gang, you deserve to be treated like one.

Allowing MS-13 gang members who aren’t even here legally, back into society on a $2,500 bond is insane. It isn’t racist to keep MS-13 gang members locked up, it’s smart. Especially for felony charges. We aren’t talking about jaywalking or littering.

Violent people shouldn’t be afforded the opportunity to continue their violence in our society. Period.

Luckily, the only person killed in this horrific incident was another alleged gang member and not an innocent person in the NYC subway system. Despite that, I can’t help but feel bad they had to witness such a heinous act. Especially considering it could and should have been prevented.

No matter who is at fault.

It’s a damn shame.

The Officer Next Door

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3 Comments »

  1. Sorry to say, mate, there are states in the US that are suffering a form of political insanity. It is not safe for decent folks to live in these states any more, sorry to say. New York and California are good examples of what I am typing about.

  2. I don’t disagree with your general premise – ICE failed to take action when he was in custody – but the detainer practice is flawed. The detainers ICE/Immigration has traditionally used are administrative letters that basically ask for a favor, ie for the detention facility to hang onto the detainee until ICE can come get them. If the detainee is eligible for release, in accordance with the facility’s own booking procedures, and waiting to bond, he cannot be held without a probable cause warrant. A detainer isn’t a warrant and so doesn’t suffice. The detainer practice has been widespread, however, in jurisdictions where detainees have had legal assistance, the issue has gone before various courts and the courts have said detainers aren’t sufficient and ICE needs to get warrants. *That’s* where the ball is being dropped, at least in those cases where the facility has notified ICE of the detainee’s presence and immigration status.
    The bond issue is also a sticky legal wicket. Mere belonging to a gang, criminal or otherwise, is not a crime; only criminal acts are a crime. Even if the judge had the leeway to modify the bond, ie it’s not set by statute, the question becomes can the judge impose a penalty on the detainee via a higher bond for an association that isn’t itself a crime? Probably not.
    Again, on general principles, I agree there’s a problem, but there are laws that play a role in these issues, foundational Constitutional laws, not merely statutory ones that could be repealed by legislators. The problems aren’t simple.
    PS – As a retired officer, I greatly appreciate your site and love your approach. Thanks for getting the word out. Be safe.

    • I agree but didn’t want this article to end up being 3000 words. So I kept it as short as possible. And getting too deep into the “legal ease” won’t do much good, especially for the non-law enforcement readers.

      Also, like you mentioned, law enforcement is NOT as uniform as people think across the country. So what was common practice where I worked, may not be where you worked.

      I mentioned the foundational Constitutional laws briefly and recognize they exist. But as a whole, I think this guy could have been kept in custody or at the very least, given more than a $2,500 bond, given what they obtained from their investigation regarding his plans to rob a rival dope house. Again, highlighting the differences in jurisdiction, in Dallas county, two felony charges like he had would have resulted in much higher bonds than $2500, especially with a prior criminal history.

      Being in a gang such as MS-13 isn’t illegal, nor did I suggest it was. However, that being the case, I think an application for a high bond and should have easily been applied and argued for. Articulating certain factors like criminal history, violence he was believed to have planned to commit, flight risk, etc. It could be done. But maybe not in NYC. But I did it all the time in Texas, almost always successfully.

      Again, I’m not an ICE S.O.P. expert. Don’t claim to be. But it’s apparent there are things happening and agencies are being forbidden from cooperating with ICE, that could easily be contributing to things like this happening. If ICE could have applied for a warrant to keep him detained, I think they should have.

      But like you said, the problems aren’t simple. It’s hard enough writing about them without getting lost and going in 50 different topic directions.

      Thanks for your input, service, and support.

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