In a shocking turn of events, a case manager at the Otay Mesa Detention Facility has been charged with the sexual abuse of a detainee. Shantal Hernandez, who worked at the Office of the Immigration Detention Ombudsman, is accused of engaging in sexual relations with a detainee while overseeing complaints about immigration detention standards. The allegations came to light after agents with the Department of Homeland Security received information about Hernandez’s unusually close relationship with a detainee. Phone records revealed a significant number of sexually explicit conversations and electronic communications between Hernandez and the detainee. The case serves as a reminder that those in positions of authority cannot abuse their power, and that the highest standards must be upheld in the treatment of immigration detainees.
Otay Mesa Detention Facility
The Otay Mesa Detention Facility is a detention center located in San Diego, California. It is primarily used to house individuals who are awaiting immigration proceedings or who have been ordered to be removed from the United States. The facility is operated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
Office of the Immigration Detention Ombudsman (OIDO)
The Office of the Immigration Detention Ombudsman (OIDO) is an independent office within the Department of Homeland Security. It was established by Congress to assist individuals with complaints about potential violations of immigration detention standards or other misconduct by Department of Homeland Security or contract personnel. OIDO provides oversight of immigration detention facilities and aims to promote safe and humane conditions within these facilities.
Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a federal agency responsible for protecting the United States from various threats, including terrorism and border security. It encompasses multiple agencies, including ICE, which is responsible for enforcing immigration and customs laws. DHS plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and security of the country.
Charges and Allegations
Sexual Abuse of a Ward – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2243(b)
Shantal Hernandez, a case manager at the Office of the Immigration Detention Ombudsman, has been charged with the sexual abuse of a ward. This charge falls under Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2243(b), which prohibits engaging in sexual acts with an individual who is in the custody, care, or supervisory control of the defendant.
Investigation and Evidence
ICE OPR Agents Receive Information
Agents from the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Professional Responsibility (ICE OPR) received information about Shantal Hernandez’s alleged misconduct. The information indicated that she had been spending an unusual amount of time with a detainee identified as I.K.N. at the Otay Mesa Detention Facility.
Phone Records and Electronic Communications
ICE OPR agents obtained phone records from the detention facility and discovered that Hernandez and I.K.N. had engaged in a significant number of sexually explicit phone calls and electronic communications. These communications discussed an ongoing relationship and explicit sexual acts between Hernandez and I.K.N. The evidence from the phone records played a crucial role in the investigation.
Search Warrant Execution and Video Evidence
Based on the evidence obtained from the phone records, ICE OPR agents executed a search warrant, which resulted in the discovery of a video depicting one of the alleged sexual acts between Hernandez and I.K.N. This video serves as additional evidence in the case.
Statements from Officials
Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Haden
Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Haden emphasized that the alleged conduct of Shantal Hernandez would not be tolerated. As individuals in positions of authority over immigration detainees, it is essential that they are held to the highest standards. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all individuals in immigration detention.
Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Gilgallon
Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Gilgallon, representing the Office of Professional Responsibility, expressed disappointment in Hernandez’s alleged misconduct. He emphasized that her role as a case manager was to promote safe and humane conditions within immigration detention. However, Hernandez allegedly abused her position and engaged in prohibited sexual activity with an ICE detainee. The Office of Professional Responsibility is fully committed to enforcing ICE’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse in detention facilities and pursuing legal action against employees who violate the law.
Initial Appearance in Federal Court
Shantal Hernandez made her initial appearance in federal court, where she was formally charged with sexual abuse of a ward. This appearance allows the defendant to understand the charges against them and enter a plea.
Detention Hearing Scheduled
A detention hearing for Hernandez has been scheduled before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill L. Burkhardt. This hearing will determine whether Hernandez should be detained pending trial or if she can be released on bail or other conditions.
San Diego, CA
Summary of Charges
Sexual Abuse of a Ward
Shantal Hernandez has been charged with sexual abuse of a ward. This charge carries severe penalties, including a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of Professional Responsibility
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, specifically its Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), is involved in this case. ICE OPR is responsible for ensuring the professional conduct and integrity of ICE employees. In this case, ICE OPR agents conducted the investigation and played a crucial role in gathering evidence against Shantal Hernandez.
Case Updates and Related Content
Press Release: Leader and Chief Financial Officer of Human Smuggling Transportation Cell Sentenced to Prison
This press release outlines a separate case involving the sentencing of a leader and chief financial officer of a human smuggling transportation cell to prison. While unrelated to the current case involving Shantal Hernandez, this press release highlights the ongoing efforts of law enforcement agencies to combat criminal activities and ensure public safety.
Press Release: Drug Dealer Sentenced to 210 Months in Fentanyl Overdose Death
Another unrelated press release details the sentencing of a drug dealer to a lengthy prison term in a fentanyl overdose death case. This press release exemplifies the dedication of law enforcement in combating the opioid epidemic and holding individuals accountable for their roles in drug-related deaths.
Press Release: Former U.S. Postal Service Mail Carrier Sentenced for Stealing Mail from Customers in Santee
This press release describes the sentencing of a former U.S. Postal Service mail carrier who was involved in stealing mail from customers in Santee. Though unrelated to the current case, this press release highlights the commitment to justice and ensuring the integrity of government services.
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