El Paso

El Paso leaders won't comment on transgender woman's criminal background

Escobar and Bernal coy on transgender...

EL PASO, Texas - The transgender woman arrested by Border Patrol agents outside the county courthouse in Early February is facing ten years in a federal prison after a federal grand jury indicted her on a charge of Illegal Re-Entry.

The arrest of 33-year-old Irvin Gonzalez made national headlines when it was reported ICE agents arrested her moments after she filed a protective order against her ex-boyfriend, Mario Alberto De Avila.

Court documents obtained by ABC-7 state Gonzalez has an extensive criminal history and has been previously deported from the US on six occasions.

Gonzalez and De Avila are also under investigation for alleged forgery. El Paso Police accuse them of stealing money orders from public mailboxes, scrubbing off the names and then depositing the money orders into De Avila's bank account.  De Avila was charged in January and is currently out on bond. Courts documents state Gonzalez admitted to taking part in the scheme.

A court document obtained by ABC-7 states De Avila had previously been charged with trying to smuggle 85 pounds of marijuana into the US in a truck at the Paso del Norte Port of Entry in August of 2015.

On February 9, 2017, Gonzalez was escorted out of the County Courthouse by two Border Patrol agents who set up a surveillance operation when they learned she was going to appear in court to file a protective order against De Avila. Once outside the courthouse, a third agent took Gonzalez into custody.

The agents were part of an investigative unit involving Homeland Security Investigations and ICE.

El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke, County Judge Veronica Escobar and County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal, condemned the arrest at the courthouse, arguing it would discourage victims of domestic violence, in the country illegally, from reaching out to authorities for help.

They also criticized Border Patrol agents, who did not mention in the original affidavit they were inside the courthouse looking for Gonzalez.

ABC-7 reached out to O'Rourke, Escobar and Bernal in light of the new allegations against Gonzalez. Escobar told ABC-7 she was "swamped" and could not comment because she had not yet read the amended affidavit filed against Gonzalez.

Bernal told ABC-7 it wasn't fair to comment on the case any further since she is not a lawyer involved in the case anymore.

O'Rourke sent ABC-7 the following statement: "Agents arrested a woman in a courthouse following a protective order hearing and were not truthful in the affidavit they signed. Conducting the arrest in this manner raises serious questions and diminishes the willingness of undocumented immigrants to work with law enforcement. It will make El Paso less safe."


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