Migrant Carrying Machete at US Capitol Was ‘Significant Threat’; Previously Caught and Released

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A man who was arrested last week for carrying a machete, a butcher’s knife, and a brick near the East Front of the U.S. Capitol is an illegal immigrant from Venezuela whom federal border authorities previously captured and released, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) admitted Tuesday. 

U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) arrested Jose Leonardo Marquez, 23, on Dec. 26 after a USCP officer saw Marquez pacing back and forth, before sitting down on a ledge on the east side of the U.S. Capitol.  

According to a press release, after the officer witnessed Marquez’s strange behavior, he approached and spoke to him. While speaking to Marquez, the officer noticed a brick in his pocket and asked him to toss the brick to the side. 

After Marquez complied with the officer’s request, he also pulled out a knife and placed it on the ledge, the USCP said. The officer then called for backup and secured the knife. That’s when he noticed the handle of a machete under the man’s clothing drew his service weapon and ordered Marquez to put his hands up. He complied and officers took the machete away from him and placed him under arrest. 

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slider img 2ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers took Marquez into custody the next day.  According to the agency, Marquez unlawfully entered the U.S. on an unknown date, at an unknown location, and without being admitted, inspected, or paroled by an immigration official.

The U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) arrested Marquez on Aug. 21, 2022, near El Paso, Texas, according to the agency. The USBP had then released Marquez the next day on Alternatives to Detention, a tracking program, “due to a lack of detention capacity.”

“Jose Leonardo Marquez-Marquez posed a significant threat to people in and around the U.S. Capitol,” ERO Washington, D.C. acting Field Office Director Patrick Divver said in a statement. “Thanks to our law enforcement partners at the U.S. Capitol Police, this threat was mitigated quickly. Fortunately, Marquez is currently in ERO custody and will face removal proceedings.”

According to ICE, Marquez reported to ERO Washington, D.C. on Oct. 5, 2023, where he received a court date to appear before a Department of Justice immigration judge. 

Marquez has been charged by the USCP for carrying a dangerous weapon and possessing a prohibited weapon, the agency said. He remains in the custody of ICE ERO in Washington, D.C. 

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