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Updated Mar 20, 2013 - 9:18 am

ICE: 68-year-old Bolivian was only 'Level 1' offender released in Arizona

PHOENIX -- Homeland Security's release of thousands of illegal immigrants included a 68-year-old Bolivian man who had lived legally in the country for 45 years, according to a news report.

There were 342 of the 2,000-plus detainees released in Arizona.

The Arizona Daily Star reported that the Bolivian national was among the group and had been granted U.S. permanent residency in 1963.

The man had lived legally in the country for 45 years, but was deported in 2008 because of convictions including five misdemeanors for drug possession, theft and possession of stolen property.

Three years ago the man tried to apply for re-admission through the Nogales Port of Entry and was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

More than half of the Arizona detainees were classified noncriminal. Level 1 offenders have been convicted of "major drug offenses and national security crimes, and violent crimes," according to ICE documents.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu is wary of there being a lone Level 1 threat.

"For them to tell us now, after all these partials truths -- and we had to drag that out of them -- I don't believe them."

The department recently acknowledged that the releases were because of budget concerns.

About the Author

Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.


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