The Travis County Sheriff's Office said an e-mail from immigration officials somehow fell through the cracks, resulting in the release of a known Mexican gang member.
The sheriff's office said a man in custody on non-violent charges was released, even though ICE requested a detainer, but the sheriff's office wasn't aware of the man's full criminal history before he bonded out of jail.
Now, they say, ICE has proven there was an email sent to the sheriff's office detailing the man's violent past.
That missed email may have spurred a very public disagreement between Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Wednesday, Hernandez told FOX 7 the sheriff's office denied an ICE detainer for 33-year-old Julio Cesar Mendoza-Caballero.
Caballero had been arrested by TCSO last month for assault with injury, a class A misdemeanor.
That charge doesn't fit their criteria for honoring a detainer, per the controversial policy Hernandez implemented in February.
“Doesn't fall in our threshold and so we declined the detainer and the subject made bond,” Hernandez said.
But ICE said Caballero also had a violent criminal history; including theft of a firearm, four deportations and a known affiliation with a Mexican gang. And ICE said they informed the sheriff's office by email of those charges, asking that the detainer be reconsidered.
That's an email the sheriff's office said they never saw, which is why Hernandez told us this on Wednesday:
“I believe that immigration overreacted and I believe that it may have been a little politically based.”
Thursday, a statement from the sheriff's office backtracked a bit saying in part:
"It has been brought to the attention of TCSO that ICE did in fact send an email at 3:45 pm on June 16, 2017 that provided criminal history information about Julio Cesar Mendoza-Caballero. The message also requested that our decision to decline his ICE Detainer request be re-considered. Our agency deeply regrets that the message was missed due to a clerical error."
“A person with these credentials, who can get out of the jail and have to be re-arrested by ICE, we would suggest that's a public safety concern,” said AJ Louderback with the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas.
The sheriff's office said they hadn't run Caballero's criminal history before his release because he was in custody for less than 12 hours for a nonviolent crime.
They did, however, check his warrants and TCSO said, although ICE did show them proof that an email containing Caballero’s criminal history was sent to them, the sheriff’s office still hasn't been able to track it down.
Had they known about Caballero's violent past, they said they probably would've honored ICE's request, but TCSO said if ICE really wanted Caballero to be held, presenting a warrant or an order for removal would've guaranteed it.
“They had six hours before he was released, and during those six hours, they could have produced a removal order or a warrant and they did neither,” Hernandez said.
TCSO said their IT department is currently looking into what could've happened to that email.
Caballero was arrested in Austin last week and is in U.S. Marshal custody now pending his deportation case.