Federal immigration officials are citing the Monday capture of San Francisco’s “Rideshare Rapist” as a public policy failure.
In a statement, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency blamed local sanctuary city laws for allowing suspect Orlando Vilchez Lazo to pick up and sexually assault unsuspecting women. By refusing to cooperate with ICE, the agency claims San Francisco “shields criminal aliens who prey on the community.”
The suspect, 36-year old Lazo, is being held in a San Francisco jail. With bail set at $4.2 million, he faces life in prison.
Police say Lazo pretended to be a ‘ride-hail driver’ and purportedly selected his victims outside bars and nightclubs. An ICE release states that Lazo is “a citizen of Peru illegally present in the U.S.”
While the agency didn’t say it had previously been seeking Lazo, it did lodge “a detainer” for Lazo on Friday.
“ICE maintains that cooperation by local law enforcement is an indispensable component of promoting public safety,” said the statement. “The San Francisco jail does not honor ICE detainers nor notify ICE about the impending release of aliens in its custody. In doing so, the jail not only provides a refuge for illegal aliens, but it also shields criminal aliens who prey on people in the community.”
The statement, writes the SF Gate, refers to the city’s years-old sanctuary policies. Intended to enhance cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement, San Francisco—along with other localities in California and across the country—forbids police officials from feeding the ‘legal’ status of its inmates and detainees to the federal government.
San Francisco immigration officials—in a statement the SF Gate says is from the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs—contend that sanctuary ordinances “promote public trust and cooperation… by making sure that all residents, regardless of immigration status, feel comfortable calling the police and fire departments during emergencies and cooperating with city agencies.”
Lazo was allegedly working for Lyft until the company learned of accusations levied against him. Spokeswoman Kate Margolis maintains that Lyft “had no reason to believe” their employee was breaking the law or victimizing customers during his time with the ridesharing service.
Margolis also implied that Lazo’s Lyft account had been “deactivated” prior to the first of the man’s four alleged assaults.
Lazo was arrested Thursday, five days after an officer observed a man fitting the “Rideshare Rapist” description in a South Market neighborhood. DNA samples were obtained which showed a high probability of Lazo being the assailant.
“These assaults were not date rape. They were not acquaintance rapes. These assaults were violent rapes committed by a serial rapist—a sexual-deviant predator who was not going to stop until he was caught,” said Commander Greg McEachern of the San Francisco Police Department’s investigations bureau.