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Brother of Laken Riley's accused killer to remain in federal custody on fake green card charge

By Joe Johnson

The brother of Jose Ibarra, who is charged in the killing of Laken Riley, will remain in federal custody on his own case involving an alleged possession of a fake green card.

Diego Ibarra, 29, was deemed at a detention hearing Thursday morning in U.S, District Court in Macon.

When arrested Feb. 23 by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department during an investigation of the nursing student he presented as proof of identification a fraudulent green card.

The fraudulent green card

He an brother Jose Ibarra had both been arrested because they resembled a surveillance camera image of Riley's suspected killer.

Jose was eventually charged with malice murder, kidnapping, and related crimes.

In arguing that Diego Ibarra be detained, the government presented evidence of his alleged affiliation with a violent Venezuelan gang,

If convicted for possessing a fake green card he could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison.

For Thursday's hearing the government included the following in its Memorandum of Facts for why Ivarrra should be detained:

April 3, 2023 – Illegal Entry into the United States

Ibarra has a lengthy history of encounters with immigration officials – the first documented event occurred on April 3, 2023. On that date, Ibarra entered the U.S. illegally near Eagle Pass, Texas, and was apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”). Ibarra was returned to Mexico by CBP that same day. However, Ibarra would re-enter the U.S. illegally just 27 days later.

April 30, 2023 – Illegal Entry into the U.S. and Assault on Border Patrol Agent

On April 30, 2023, a CBP surveillance camera operator spotted five males illegally crossing the U.S. border in Texas from Mexico. The camera operator notified nearby Border Patrol agents. Two Border Patrol agents approached two of the men, who were later identified as Ibarra and Jose Lozado-Salas. After identifying themselves as Border Patrol agents, the agents attempted to apprehend Ibarra and Lozada-Salas. When one of the agents attempted to handcuff Lozado- Salas, he punched the agent in the face. Simultaneously, the other agent attempted to take Ibarra into custody. Ibarra resisted the agent’s efforts and grabbed his CBP issued radio and threw it into a nearby yard. At one point, Ibarra attempted to bite the agent. The agents grappled with Ibarra and Lozado-Salas for approximately four minutes before members of the National Guard arrived and assisted the agents in subduing both men. After Ibarra complained of chest pains, he was transported to the Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, where he was interviewed by an FBI special agent. Ibarra admitted to the agent that he crossed into the U.S. illegally with four other men, all from Venezuela. Ibarra stated that when they were encountered by the two Border Patrol agents, three of the men ran. Ibarra admitted that he also tried to run, but one of the agents grabbed him and threw him to the ground and that was when the “scuffle” began. The agent documented in his official report that Ibarra admitted to resisting arrest and attempting to avoid apprehension “at any cost.”

May 25, 2023 – Absconded from Immigration Supervision Program

On May 11, 2023, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Enforcement and Removal Operations (“ERO”) placed Ibarra in the Alternatives to Detention (“ATD”) program, and he was released from immigration’s custody the following day. Ibarra was required to wear a GPS ankle monitoring device. On May 25, 2023, Ibarra was removed from the ATD program and listed as an absconder after it was determined that he had cut off his ankle monitor. Ultimately, the device was located on the side of a road in Littleton, Colorado. At some point, Ibarra travelled to Athens, Georgia, where he had frequent contact with local law enforcement officers.

April 3, 2023 – Illegal Entry into the United States

Ibarra has a lengthy history of encounters with immigration officials – the first documented event occurred on April 3, 2023. On that date, Ibarra entered the U.S. illegally near Eagle Pass, Texas, and was apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”). Ibarra was returned to Mexico by CBP that same day. However, Ibarra would re-enter the U.S. illegally just 27 days later.

April 30, 2023 – Illegal Entry into the U.S. and Assault on Border Patrol Agent

On April 30, 2023, a CBP surveillance camera operator spotted five males illegally crossing the U.S. border in Texas from Mexico. The camera operator notified nearby Border Patrol agents. Two Border Patrol agents approached two of the men, who were later identified as Ibarra and Jose Lozado-Salas. After identifying themselves as Border Patrol agents, the agents attempted to apprehend Ibarra and Lozada-Salas. When one of the agents attempted to handcuff Lozado- Salas, he punched the agent in the face. Simultaneously, the other agent attempted to take Ibarra into custody. Ibarra resisted the agent’s efforts and grabbed his CBP issued radio and threw it into a nearby yard. At one point, Ibarra attempted to bite the agent. The agents grappled with Ibarra and Lozado-Salas for approximately four minutes before members of the National Guard arrived and assisted the agents in subduing both men. After Ibarra complained of chest pains, he was transported to the Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, where he was interviewed by an FBI special agent. Ibarra admitted to the agent that he crossed into the U.S. illegally with four other men, all from Venezuela. Ibarra stated that when they were encountered by the two Border Patrol agents, three of the men ran. Ibarra admitted that he also tried to run, but one of the agents grabbed him and threw him to the ground and that was when the “scuffle” began. The agent documented in his official report that Ibarra admitted to resisting arrest and attempting to avoid apprehension “at any cost.”

May 25, 2023 – Absconded from Immigration Supervision Program

On May 11, 2023, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Enforcement and Removal Operations (“ERO”) placed Ibarra in the Alternatives to Detention (“ATD”) program, and he was released from immigration’s custody the following day. Ibarra was required to wear a GPS ankle monitoring device. On May 25, 2023, Ibarra was removed from the ATD program and listed as an absconder after it was determined that he had cut off his ankle monitor. Ultimately, the device was located on the side of a road in Littleton, Colorado. At some point, Ibarra travelled to Athens, Georgia, where he had frequent contact with local law enforcement officers.

That contact was from three arrests, for shoplifting, motor vehicle violations, and failing to appear in court.


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