DENVER -- The release of an accused heroin dealer who is in the country illegally has sparked an internal affairs investigation at the Denver Sheriff's Department, and tension between Denver and federal investigators over the way the case was handled.
Amid growing concern over skyrocketing heroin use and overdose deaths in Denver, Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently launched a crackdown targeting what it refers to as "alien" heroin dealers.
Miguel Delgado-Ventura, 34, is one of the suspected dealers who was arrested. According to Denver police reports, he was carrying multiple packets of heroin in his jacket. He listed his address as "car/hotel."
Federal prosecutors also opened a case against him after discovering he had been deported and then illegally re-entered the country at least six times since 2006. He also had prior drug arrests.
A federal judge called him a "flight risk" and refused to release him on bond.
Delgado-Ventura pled guilty to illegal re-entry after deportation and was scheduled to be deported to Mexico when the Denver District Attorney's Office requested he be transferred to the Denver County Jail for a hearing on the drug charges.
A federal spokesman said they do such transfers on a regular basis and there is a written agreement that the local agency will keep the suspect in custody or return the suspect to ICE custody.
But that agreement was violated when the Denver Sheriff's Department released Delgado-Ventura after Denver District Judge Williams Robbins set a personal recognizance bond.
Delgado-Ventura did not appear for his scheduled hearing in Denver court on Monday. He is now a fugitive and the judge issued an arrest warrant.
But sources said they believe the accused heroin dealer is long gone. They said this case makes ICE very reluctant to honor any similar requests from Denver.