on July 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Repeat illegal immigrant drowns in weekend accident

SIX MILE — A 33-year–old illegal immigrant, released by Pickens County authorities to federal agents last November and subsequently deported four months ago, drowned Saturday while swimming in a cove at Warpath Landing.

The Pickens County Coroner’s Office said Monday that a diver eventually retrieved the body of Mario Aguelar Comacho, of Pond Drive, following his disappearance around 1:31 p.m. An autopsy is being performed at Greenville Memorial Hospital, and the case remains under investigation by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office and the Pickens County Coroner’s Office.

Pickens County sheriff’s deputies initially arrested Comacho last November in response to a disturbance on Pond Drive. The victim told officers that Comacho had used a garden hose to put water in the gas tank of her vehicle before fleeing into the woods. Deputies eventually located Comacho and, due to his intoxicated state and statement from the victim, arrested him for public disorderly conduct and malicious damage to personal property.

While Comacho was being processed at the Pickens County Detention Center, a standard background check discovered that he was in the United States illegally. A subsequent investigation revealed that Comacho had illegally entered the United States on five occasions — in 1996, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005.

Pickens County Sheriff David Stone said at the time that Comacho had used 15 aliases, three different dates of birth and was arrested in Florida, Michigan and Texas on various charges.

“This guy has seen more of the country than I have,” Stone said.

Six days following his arrest last November, Pickens County Detention Center personnel transferred Comacho to the custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) service of the Department of Homeland Security. Assistant Sheriff Tim Morgan said ICE officials deported Comacho a sixth time on Feb. 23.

That marked the last time Pickens County sheriff’s officials had heard of Comacho’s whereabouts until last Saturday, when deputies were called to the scene at Warpath Landing off S.C. Highway 183. When deputies arrived, they were informed that two individuals had attempted to swim across the small cove near the boat landing and that one of the individuals had disappeared under water.

Witnessed told sheriff’s deputies that they had searched the area for approximately 15 minutes prior to calling 911. A search by Pickens County Rescue, with assistance from a depth finder, located an object roughly 30-feet offshore in the cove. A diver subsequently recovered the body of Comacho in approximately 22 feet of water.

Morgan said Comacho’s case has been a frustrating one for the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.

“It emphasizes the need of the federal government to better secure our borders,” Morgan said.

Morgan added that 74 illegal immigrants have been processed through the Pickens County Detention Center during the past eight months and, of that number, 28 have been sent to ICE officials for deportation.