La Joya police question new ICE policy

A La Joya man is behind bars after he allegedly held three illegal immigrants for ransom on Sunday.

Police said Julian Toscano offered the immigrants a safe place to hide from law enforcement. Instead, he told his daughter to go and buy calling cards at a nearby store.

Investigators said when she returned he handed the cards to the immigrants and told them to call their family in El Salvador to send money"are he would not let them leave his home.

Police told Action 4 News Toscano TMs daughter told her father she did not want the immigrants in the home and to let them leave.

Police said that is when Toscano brought his daughter to a back room and started to slap her---in that time the immigrants decided to make a run for it.

"Mr. Toscano went after them with a bat and a gun, La Joya Police Chief Jose Del Angel said. He chased them all over La Joya. There were some citizens that helped the immigrants and called police."

Despite claims that Toscano held these immigrants for ransom---he was not charged with that crime.

Chief Del Angel said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents told him, since there were only three immigrants involved in the alleged kidnapping, they would not take the case.

Del Angel said agents told him that a recent policy change allowed them to only take on a case if there were six or more immigrants involved.

Toscano was charged with possession of marijuana and assault.

ICE released the following statement about the incident:

ICE TMs Homeland Security Investigations supports national security by smartly, effectively and humanely enforcing our immigration and customs laws. While HSI has the authority to exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis, our decision to criminally prosecute is contingent on many factors. HSI will continue to pursue the investigation of these smuggling incidents and seek criminal prosecution where appropriate. Our ability to enforce and manage the investigations we initiate is also contingent on prudent use of our criminal and administrative authorities. HSI will continue to work closely with our state and local partners by providing them appropriate support to keep their communities safe.