The arrested Sureño gang member accused of murdering a California police officer last week had no encounters with the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency prior to the alleged shooting, immigration authorities said.
Gustavo Perez Arriaga, a 32-year-old undocumented immigrant from Mexico, was arrested in Bakersfield, California, on Friday morning for allegedly killing California police officer Ronil Singh during a traffic stop.
Singh, a 33-year-old corporal with the Newman Police Department, was shot and killed after stopping Arriaga for a suspected DUI last Wednesday.
Arriaga's immigration status and criminal history came into focus after Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson criticized California’s sanctuary laws on Friday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
At a press conference announcing Arriaga's arrest, Christianson said government policies had protected an undocumented immigrant with a criminal history.
"So while we absolutely need to stay focused on Officer Singh's service and sacrifice, we can't ignore the fact that this could have been preventable," he said.
In a statement on Sunday, ICE echoed Christianson's sentiments.
"We remain deeply concerned that California’s sanctuary laws continue to undermine public safety and cause preventable crimes by restricting law enforcement cooperation and allowing public safety threats back into the community to reoffend,” the statement read.
But it remains unclear how California sanctuary would have prevented Wednesday's shootings.
Known as SB54, California's sanctuary law was signed in 2017, and limits the degree to which local law enforcement can cooperate with federal authorities. The law inhibits local law enforcement from notifying federal immigration authorities when individuals will be released from their custody.
Records revealed that Arriaga was arrested for a DUI in 2014, well before SB54 was enacted. In addition, ICE never requested that the jails hold him so they could pick him up, because they had had no previous encounters with him, the agency said.
Arriaga will be charged with homicide, law enforcement officials said on Friday.
Immigration officials said Adrian Virgen, an alleged accomplice and Arriaga's brother, is undocumented and has a prior misdemeanor conviction in California. He also had no previous encounters with ICE, officials said.
Erik Razo Quiroz, also an alleged accomplice, was undocumented and had a prior felony conviction in California and two previous deportations to Mexico, immigration officials also said.
Razo Quiroz and Virgen were arrested last Thursday for allegedly helping Arriaga escape.
Hamed Aleaziz contributed reporting to this story.
Erik Razo Quiroz's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.