Attorney General Eric Holder had told prosecutors in a federal conspiracy and murder trial not to seek the death penalty for three El Salvadoran men who are in the U.S. illegally. The three men are accused of robbing and shooting Claros Luna on July 29, 2009 in Alexandria, VA. Luna was transporting a prostitute from Maryland to Virginia when he was murdered
The three suspects Eris Arguera, Alcides Umana and Adolfo Amaya Portillo, are admitted gang members of the MS-13 gang. They were indicted on November 24th on federal racketeering and murder charges.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia said that Eric Holder, as U.S. attorney general, makes death penalty decisions in federal cases and not the local U.S. Attorney’s office. Court documents indicate that the death penalty at one time was being considered for these Salvadorans.
A FBI press release issued the day after the three men were indicted by a grand jury stated that the case was under investigation by the FBI, Alexandria Police Department, Fairfax County and Arlington County Police Departments and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
An ICE spokesperson said the immigration agency filed paperwork to begin deportation proceedings in case the men are not convicted or if they are released on parole. If that happens, the Salvadorans would be remanded to ICE custody.
The trial is set to begin on May 10.