Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities have lodged a detainer on Justo Bueno-Palacios, a 27-year-old who’s been booked into County Jail 14 times since last October for a host of highly invasive but low-level offenses including hiding under the covers of a couple’s bed in their Westside apartment, hiding in the shower in another residence, and hiding in the tub of yet another. In the last two instances, the residents were women. In another case, Bueno-Palacios followed a 17-year-old female home from work on two occasions causing her fear.

Earlier this week, Santa Barbara Police issued a press release warning the public that Bueno-Palacios was about to be released from jail and that they should be on the watch for prowlers and people breaking into their residences. The issuance of that press release was an exceptional occurrence.

High-ranking prosecutor Ben Ladinig was assigned the case, and Bueno-Palacios was not released from County Jail as city police had feared. Instead, he remains in jail and faces nine charges. His bail has been set at $110,000. Bueno-Palacios will be arraigned Friday morning and assigned a public defender to represent him.

In none of the previous cases did Bueno-Palacios brandish a weapon. In none did he use or threaten actual physical violence. In five instances, he was booked for public intoxication. He’s also been charged with possession of methamphetamine, being in possession of counterfeit documents, and providing false names and documentation to law enforcement officers. Until the most recent spate of nine charges were filed, only misdemeanor charges had been filed against Bueno-Palacios. And only one of the nine — burglary — is a felony.

Given the overcrowded conditions at the County Jail, individuals booked on misdemeanors are almost always released unless violence or the threat of violence was involved. Ladinig said his office took action because of the high number of contacts Bueno-Palacios has had with law enforcement agencies — three — in such a short time — seven months — and that the home invasions and trespasses involved women as targets. Bueno-Palacios is not a naturalized United States citizen and was twice deported from the United States in 2007. When criminal proceedings against him are complete, ICE will take him into custody.


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