Tulare County Sheriff Blames CA Sanctuary Laws To Prevent “Reign of Terror”

Photo: Fox 26

TULARE, CA (KMJ) – California’s Sanctuary State Law is what Tulare County’s Sheriff says stopped him from working with ICE to possibly prevent a recent “Reign of Terror.”

In a statement, ICE says it all could have been avoided had it been notified of the pending release of 36-year-old Gustavo Garcia on Friday, Dec 21., following his arrest by the Tulare County Sheriff’s office for being under the influence of a controlled substance. ICE says they sent an Immigration Detainer on the suspect.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux says he received the notice from ICE (used to identify people who could potentially be deported), but the Immigration Detainer came just an hour before the suspect was to be released

Sheriff Boudreaux said the detainer couldn’t have been recognized, it had to have been a federal signed warrant.

While he supports DACA, Sheriff Boudreaux says his hands are tied.


Photo: Tulare County Sheriff’s Office


ICE calls it a “tragic example” of the limits stopping local law enforcement to cooperate with them.



Sheriff Boudreaux called Garcia’s trail of death and destruction across the South Valley, on Sunday and Monday a “Reign of Terror.”

It all ended just before 7:00 am Monday morning, the California Highway Patrol said Garcia was killed when drove 100 mph the wrong way on the 165 into Porterville, crashing into cars until he was thrown from the vehicle

The carjacked vehicle the suspect was driving the wrong way on Highway 65 is seen here after it collided with multiple vehicles.


ICE gave the following background on the suspect, Gustavo Garcia-Ruiz, saying he initially entered the country illegally as a minor in 1992. He adjusted his status to a Lawful Permanent Resident in 2002 deriving eligibility through a family member.  ICE lodged a detainer on him after he was convicted for Carrying a Loaded Firearm in a Public Place in 2003 – where was sentenced to two years in prison.  An immigration judge initially ordered him removed in 2004.

ICE released the following statement:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has previously removed Junior (aka Gustavo) Garcia-Ruiz twice – in 2004 and in 2014. Garcia-Ruiz served 27 months in federal prison for reentering the country prior to his second removal. On December 14, 2018, ICE lodged an immigration detainer on Garcia-Ruiz after learning of his arrest by the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office for being under the influence of a controlled substance; however that detainer was not honored and he was released from custody later that day without any notification to ICE. This deadly rampage could have been prevented if ICE had been notified of his release. This is an unfortunate and extremely tragic example of how public safety is impacted with laws or policies limiting local law enforcement agencies’ ability to cooperate with ICE.

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux’s Response:

“I have been in contact with ICE officials and have confirmed Gustavo Garcia is an undocumented previously deported criminal.
I received and read the statement provided by ICE regarding his history. And the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office is equally as frustrated with this situation.

Before SB 54, Gustavo Garcia would have been turned over to ICE officials. That’s how we’ve always done it, day in and day out. But after SB 54, we no longer have the power to do that. Under the new state law, we must have a “federally signed warrant” in order to do that. We didn’t honor the detainer because state law doesn’t allow us to.

This is, once again, an example of State and Federal Law contradicting each other and another example of why “sanctuary cities” don’t keep people safe. The people in this Valley know, if we could legally hold someone based on a “criminal immigration detainer”, we would.

I want to be clear, the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t disagree with DACA, it doesn’t disagree with Dreamers. It disagrees with putting dangerous criminals back into our community. And that’s exactly what happened here. Seven months ago, I went before the Board of Supervisors opposing sanctuary cities, because I knew this is where we were headed. This is exactly what I feared would happen.”


Sheriff Boudreaux’s Statement to the Board of Supervisors, May 2018:

“Our focus is on the victims of Tulare County. We have farmers, ranchers, businessmen that employ even those that are undocumented. But I don’t want to pigeonhole the undocumented status of migrant workers because they’re entrepreneurs, they’re business people, they have successful businesses within our county. Having said that, if you were providing a risk to those who are living here, thriving here, living safely here, I need the tools to be able to remove you from that community.”




Click to listen to the report by KMJ’S Liz Kern: