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ICE announces 5-day sweep nets 45 in Philly region, including convicted child rapist

ICE highlighted the case of Edward Valdez, who entered a negotiated guilty plea to child rape last month in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.

File photo.
File photo.

Forty-five people, including a man convicted of child rape, were arrested during a five-day sweep across the region by the Philadelphia field office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, agency officials said Thursday.

The field office announced that the sweep in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia focused on “at-large criminal aliens released into the community” and highlighted the case of Edward Valdez, who entered a negotiated guilty plea to child rape last month in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court and was immediately released with time served.

Valdez was tried before a jury in January, but that ended with a mistrial because the jury could not reach a verdict on several counts, according to court records. He was originally arrested on July 15, 2016.

The ICE Philadelphia field office said that Valdez, whom the agency identifies fully as Edward De Oleo Valdez, is from the Dominican Republic, and that ICE lodged a detainer for Valdez on July 16 with the city’s Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility.

Court records show that Valdez was sentenced by Judge Donna M. Woelpper on Aug. 13 to a minimum of 18 months and a maximum of three years and was immediately paroled.

According to ICE, the agency lodges detainers against persons who have been arrested on criminal charges and are believed to be “removable aliens.” A detainer asks another law enforcement agency to notify ICE in advance of that person’s release and to hold that person until ICE can assume custody.

Valdez was arrested by ICE near the PATCO station at Eighth and Market Streets in Center City on Tuesday and will remain in ICE custody pending his deportation, the agency said. ICE said he is 38 years old. Pennsylvania court records say he is 39.

The lawyer who represented Valdez at the January trial could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Philadelphia is a sanctuary city, and Mayor Jim Kenney has fought against the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants. The Kenney administration refuses to have city police assist in enforcing federal immigration laws.

Last year, the city fought and won a federal lawsuit over the Trump administration’s attempt to withhold law enforcement funding unless the city agreed to help detain immigrants.

Lauren Cox, a spokesperson for the city, said she could not immediately comment on the facts of the Valdez case, but she noted that the city does cooperate with ICE when that agency obtains a judicial warrant in a case. “We also continue to work with federal law enforcement agencies on a host of other public safety matters,” Cox said in an email.

From Saturday to Wednesday, the Philadelphia ICE field office arrested 34 people in Pennsylvania, eight in Delaware, and two in West Virginia, the agency said. The arrests included one woman.

The 44 total included people from 10 countries: Mexico, Jamaica, Honduras, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, China, Cambodia, Kenya, and Portugal.

Apart from the Valdez case, no other individuals were spotlighted. The agency did say some of the offenses of the other people arrested included driving under the influence and sexual offenses.

“Targeted operations like this reflect the vital public service that ERO [Enforcement and Removal Operations] officers do every day to protect the nation,” Simona Flores-Lund, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in Philadelphia, said in a statement.

ICE enforcement occurs daily, but there have been other notable crackdowns out of Philadelphia since Trump took office.

In May 2018, the Philadelphia ICE field office arrested 49 people over a seven-day period across the region.

In September 2017, the office announced it had arrested 107 people during a four-day sweep in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia.

In March 2017, the office arrested 248 people over a two-week period in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Virginia.