ICE Arrests Driver Involved in Fatal I-270 Crash That Killed Two Law Enforcement Agents
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested the driver of the vehicle involved in the fatal crash which took the lives of two law enforcement officers on I-270 in December of last year.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Justine Whelan confirmed that on Thursday, May 3, ICE officers arrested 28-year-old Roberto A. Garza Palacios at his residence in Maryland. Whelan identified Garza Palacios as an “unlawfully present Guatemalan national” and said he was taken into custody and charged with violating the terms and conditions of his work visa after overstaying the authorized period of stay in 2009.
On Tuesday, May 1, Maryland State Police announced that traffic charges had been filed against Garza Palacios, who was identified as the driver of the vehicle involved in the December 8, 2017 collision on I-270 which resulted in the deaths of Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Sander Cohen and FBI Special Agent Carlos Wolff.
The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, determined Garza Palacios was to be charged with negligent driving, a violation of Transportation Article 21-901.1(b), said the Maryland State Police in a press release. When contributing to an accident, this charge carries a penalty of a $280 fine and three points. Garza Palacios met with State Police at the Rockville Barrack in mid-April and was issued the citation. Signing the citation is not an admission of guilt.
The Maryland State Police initially said that Garza Palacios was a Germantown resident, however, the Washington Post who first reported his arrest by ICE stated that Garza Palacios was arrested in home on Belle Grove Road in Gaithersburg on Thursday.
It seems Garza Palacios has moved around quite a bit and had numerous run-ins with law enforcement during the time he has been living Maryland. According court records, he was charged with two traffic violations in May of 2015. At that time he was living in Montgomery Village. He was ticketed for the same negligent driving violation for which he was charged after the December crash which killed Cohen and Wolff. He was also charged with failure to obey traffic control device instructions. He pleaded guilty to both those charges, and subsequently had his driver’s license suspended for failure to pay the traffic tickets. His driving privilege was suspended from June 22, 2015 until November 20, 2015.
According to Whelan, ICE officers had previously encountered Garza Palacios in August 2015 and lodged a detainer with Montgomery County Detention Center following Garza’s arrest on local charges. “Garza Palacios was subsequently released from custody without notification to ICE,” said Whelan in an email to Germantown Pulse.
On June 12, 2015, Garza Palacios was arrested on 16 counts of Malicious Destruction of Property, according to Maryland Case Search.
The Washington Post article said the Garza Palacios was accused of destroying 16 windows with a metal bar and setting a sofa on fire. He eventually pleaded guilty to one count of Malicious Destruction and was sentenced to 364 days in jail with all but 88 days suspended, and two years of supervised probation. At this time, he was living in Mount Airy in an area just south of I-70.
It was while serving time in the Montgomery County Detention Center that ICE officers lodged the detainer for Garza Palacios in August of 2015. However, ICE was not notified of his release.
Two years later, in August of 2017 Garza Palacios was arrested in Montgomery County for Possession of Controlled Dangerous Substance, but the charges were eventually dropped by the prosecutor.
Robert Green, director of the Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, told the Washington Post that the August 2015 Ice detainer request lacked sufficient probable cause from ICE, and Garza Palacios was released.
On January 30, 2017 the Montgomery County Executive and County C