WANTED: ICE is searching for teen murder suspects released by Maryland authorities

Left to right: Fuentes-Ponce, Escobar and Hernandez-Nucamedi. Photos courtesy PGPD
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BALTIMORE (KKTV) - Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is searching for two illegal immigrants who are also murder suspects.

ICE sent out a release on Tuesday stating they are looking for Josue Rafael Fuentes-Ponce and Joel Ernesto Escobar. The pair was reportedly released by local authorities in Prince George County in Maryland.

"Following the recent arrest of two unlawfully present teens suspected in the violent murder of a young girl in Maryland, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers in Baltimore are again seeking to take custody of the illegal aliens through the ICE detainer process following the Prince George’s County Detention Center’s (PGCDC) failure to cooperate," ICE wrote in a release.

The two suspects were arrested on May 18, 2018 for attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, participating in gang activity, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted robbery, and other related charges. ICE is reporting federal officers lodged a detainer with the Prince George's County Detention Center. They were arrested again on May 16 for first-degree murder. However, both were released on an unknown date and time without notification to ICE, according to ICE. The Prince George County Police Department arrested the teens and believe both Fuentes-Ponce and Escobar are members of a gang.

“As law enforcement officers, we must continue to serve and protect the American public and act in the interest of public safety first,” said Baltimore Field Office Director Diane Witte. “These individuals had demonstrated violent criminal behavior before, and because they were released in spite of the lawful detainer, they were afforded an opportunity to take a life.”

Pictures of both Fuentes-Ponce and Escobar are at the top of this article, along with a third suspect in the murder case, Cynthia Hernandez-Nucamendi. On May 15, authorities found the body of 14-year-old Ariana Funes-Diaz in a creek. An autopsy showed she died from blunt force trauma.

Fuentes initially arrived in the U.S. on Dec. 23, 2015 as part of a family unit in Texas. They were ultimately paroled into the U.S. pending the outcome of the immigration case. On March 16, 2017, an immigration judge ordered Fuentes removed in absentia, yet he remained.

Escobar was found by immigration officials to be an unlawfully present unaccompanied juvenile on Aug. 23, 2016, near McAllen, Texas. Escobar was transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and later released to a family member in the Washington, D.C. area.