A Nicaraguan man in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement died Tuesday of injuries sustained in a suicide attempt last week, authorities said.
Osmar Epifanio Gonzalez-Gadba was discovered March 22 hanging in his cell at the Adelanto Detention Facility in Adelanto, Calif., about 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, according to authorities.
After officials called 911, the 32-year-old — who has had been in ICE custody since December — was rushed to Victor Valley Global Medical Center’s intensive care unit in Victorville, Calif., and placed on life support, authorities said.
Gonzalez-Gadba died early Tuesday morning at the same facility, officials said, six days after his suicide attempt. Authorities said he is the fifth detainee to die in ICE custody in fiscal year 2017.
“There are officers and medical personnel who make rounds regularly,” Virginia Kice, an ICE spokeswoman, told The Washington Post. “But in a case like his, this individual was housed in a one-person room, so he was alone when it occurred and they discovered him fairly quickly.
“He used a bedsheet tied around his neck to hang himself — that happens very quickly,” Kice added. “We have personnel who monitor all of the residential areas and the facility twenty-four/seven.”
Adelanto is the largest ICE facility in California, with a daily population that averages over 1,900 detainees, authorities said. Gonzalez-Gadba is the first detainee death linked to the facility since December 2015.
“Despite round-the-clock care, Gonzalez-Gadba never regained consciousness,” an ICE news release said, adding that “the preliminary cause of death being heart failure caused by the cerebral edema which resulted from asphyxiation.”
“Consistent with the agency’s protocols, the appropriate state health and local law enforcement agencies have been notified about the death, as have the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility,” the release continued. “Additionally, ICE has advised Nicaraguan consular representatives.”
Authorities said Gonzalez-Gadba was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents near Otay Mesa, a community just south of San Diego. At the time of his death, the news release said, ICE was trying to obtain a travel document from the Nicaraguan government that would allow the agency to move forward with deportation. The release noted that, according to Department of Homeland Security databases, Gonzalez-Gadba had been previously deported to Nicaragua, in April 2016.
Kice said Nicaraguan consular representatives in Los Angeles told ICE officials that they have been in contact with Gonzalez-Gadba’s family members in Nicaragua.
“ICE is committed to ensuring the safety of all those in its custody,” the news release said. “As such, ICE Health Service Corps (IHSC) is conducting a thorough assessment of this incident.”
News of Gonzalez-Gadba’s death comes months after President Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order to crack down on the millions of immigrants living illegally in the country. Enforcement agents have arrested hundreds of people in several states. Although the agents have arrested known criminals, they have also targeted those with minor convictions or no offenses at all, The Post reported.
Kristine Phillips contributed to this report.