Friday, July 25, 2003
Inept immigrations officers: The San Diego Union-Tribune has an excellent piece of reporting in today's paper on the bungling Border Patrol that led to the death of Oceanside Police officer Tony Zeppetella.
For almost seven years, U.S. immigration officers struggled to keep Adrian Camacho out of the country.
Four times they ordered him deported to Mexico because of his lengthy rap sheet. He always managed to come back.
The last time U.S. authorities caught him – on Jan. 28, 2002 – they decided to charge him with re-entering the United States after deportation, a felony.
But instead of appearing in court, Camacho somehow disappeared.
He avoided U.S. law enforcement until June 13. On that day, he was arrested and accused of pistol-whipping and then killing Tony Zeppetella, a 27-year-old Oceanside police officer who had pulled him over on a traffic stop.
Border Patrol officials, who had custody of Camacho before his disappearance, refused to discuss the case in detail, citing a continuing investigation by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General. But federal law enforcement officials familiar with the case believe Border Patrol detention officers mistakenly released him into Mexico, giving him yet another opportunity to return to the United States.
Officer Zeppetella left behind a wife and 6-month-old son.