In 2002, township police twice arrested one of the men charged this week with plotting to kill American soldiers at Fort Dix, but let him go despite the fact he was illegally in this country.
Police records show Eljvir Duka, 23, of Cherry Hill, got stopped by township officers on Feb. 8 and May 21, 2002, and taken into custody on outstanding warrants for traffic offenses from the New Jersey State Police.
Police Chief Rafael Muniz said his officers are trained to confirm the identity of an individual taken into custody before he or she is released.
Although not familiar with Duka's past run-ins with township police, Muniz said that if a red flag pops up showing an individual might be in the country illegally, federal Immigration and Customer Enforcement officials are immediately notified.
That does not mean, however, that the individual will be picked up, Muniz said.
"If (ICE) or nobody wants them or are not interested in picking them up, we would have to release them," Muniz said. "Usually, what I've found is they only pick up the individuals if they are charged with an indictable crime. We're limited in what we can do. We would have to find out who they are before releasing them."
Either the cops didn't notify ICE, or ICE didn't care. Either case is entirely possible as the Bush Administration refuses to make interior enforcement a priority.