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Saturday, February 25, 2012

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC - Lexington County Sheriff’s Department deputies on Saturday, February 25 arrested a 31-year-old man who illegally entered the United States from Mexico on a charge that the man broke into a Sonic Drive-In fast-food restaurant on South Lake Drive near Lexington. The restaurant was closed for business at the time of the burglary.

Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts said deputies arrested Luis Gutierrez-Gomez, 31, of 229 Vernon Drive, Lexington, on a charge of second-degree burglary at about 1:15 a.m. on Saturday. Gutierrez-Gomez was being held on Saturday at the Lexington County Detention Center.

Specially trained correctional officers who enforce federal immigration laws at the Detention Center under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) determined that Gutierrez-Gomez illegally entered the United States from Mexico, Metts said. The officers placed a detainer on Gutierrez-Gomez with ICE, pending further action by ICE.

At about 1:05 a.m. on Saturday, Sgt. Christian Smith responded to a call concerning the activation of a burglar alarm at a Sonic Drive-In at 1857 South Lake Drive, Metts said. Smith is a road patrol supervisor in the West Region Patrol District, which is based near Gilbert.

Smith found that a door was open at the rear of the restaurant, Metts said. Smith saw Gutierrez-Gomez standing in the doorway, with a bandanna covering the lower portion of his face. Gutierrez-Gomez went back in the restaurant and closed the door at the rear of the business.

Smith requested assistance from additional road patrol deputies as well as deputies with the Sheriff’s Department K-9 Unit, Metts said.

At about 1:15 a.m., Smith saw Gutierrez-Gomez open the door at the rear of the restaurant, Metts said. Smith gave Gutierrez-Gomez loud verbal commands to exit the restaurant, with his hands held high up in the air.

Gutierrez-Gomez exited the restaurant as two K-9 Unit deputies and their two K-9 police dogs approached the rear door at the restaurant, Metts said. Deputies arrested Gutierrez-Gomez without incident.

Metts asked anyone with information about additional criminal activity involving Gutierrez-Gomez to call the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department at (803) 785-8230 or CrimeStoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC. Citizens also can provide information anonymously by accessing the Crime Tip link on the Sheriff’s Department web site (www.lexingtonsheriff.com).

Two specially trained correctional officers enforce federal immigration laws at the county Detention Center under the supervision of ICE as part of the Section 287(g) Immigration Authority Delegation Program, Metts said. In September 2010, the Sheriff’s Department began enforcing federal immigration laws under ICE’s supervision at the Detention Center.

Since September 2010, specially trained correctional officers have interviewed 819 aliens jailed at the county Detention Center who were taken into ICE custody and placed into removal proceedings, according to ICE. Of the 819 aliens, 558 aliens, or 68 percent, have been removed from the United States by ICE or voluntarily returned to their home countries.

As a result of implementing the 287(g) program, the Sheriff’s Department has reduced the population at the county Detention Center by about 10 percent, Metts said. In addition, ICE now pays the cost of housing inmates at the facility who are in ICE’s custody.

If you, or someone you know, have any information regarding any crime, you are encouraged to contact Crimestoppers. You could earn a reward up to $1,000.

Anonymous tips can be submitted to Crimestoppers by calling 1-888-CRIME-SC.

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