PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. —
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is seeking custody of two teenagers accused in the brutal stabbing death of a 14-year-old girl in April.
In a news release Tuesday, the agency says they once sought custody of undocumented teens Joel Escobar, 17, of Northeast D.C., and Josue Fuentes-Ponce, 16, of Bladensburg, Md., but were unsuccessful.
The two are among the suspects involved in the death of 14-year-old Ariana Funes-Diaz whose body was found by police in a creek in Riverdale, Md.
Fuentes-Ponce and Escobar, both from El Salvador, were arrested by Prince George’s County police on May 11 and charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, participation in gang activity, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted robbery, and other related charges.
Both teens are believed to be members of an MS-13 clique in the county, according to Prince George's County Police.
ICE says they tried to lodge a detainer for the teens when they were arrested on May 11. However, the teens were released from the Prince George’s County Detention Center’s (PGCDC) without notice to the agency.
“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.”
The agency lodged a second detainer for the teens and is seeking custody of them from PGCDC, the release said.
ICE said Fuentes-Ponce came to the U.S. in Dec. of 2015 with family in Texas. He was ordered to leave the country in March 2017 but stayed.
Escobar was found to be in the country unlawfully in Aug. 2016 according to ICE. He was taken into custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and later released to a family member in D.C.
Police said Ariana Funes-Diaz was beaten and stabbed by Fuentes-Ponce and Escobar, while the other suspect in custody, 14-year-old Cynthia Hernandez-Nucamendi watched. An unknown suspect took video, according to court documents. Police are still searching for that suspect at this time.
"Consistently what we’ve seen when we deal with cases involving MS-13 is violence that’s disturbing," Maj. Brian Riley said last week. "And they’re not afraid to use it on their own, to send a message in some cases.”
Police believe Fuenes-Diaz had helped the others with a gang-related kidnapping and robbery on April 17 in the area of the Benning Road Metro station in Northeast, D.C.
Investigators say the suspects believed Funes-Diaz planned to go to police about the D.C. crime, so they planned to kill her.