Homicide witness detained by ICE for years is freed

Posted: Updated:
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN -

A man who came forward as a homicide witness wound up behind bars for helping law enforcement.

William Hurtado, now a free man, sat with acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Tuesday in Downtown Brooklyn to express his gratitude, thanking the district attorney's office, his attorney and his wife.

Gonzalez says Hurtado came forward as a witness in 2012 to help investigators solve two murder cases. But the high-profile witness was noticed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement because Hurtado is an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador. He was picked up and locked up by ICE for five years.

Hurtado says he was scared and worried about his family. But he was freed last week thanks to Gonzalez, who wrote a letter to the Department of Homeland Security urging it to release Hurtado.

Hurtado's lawyer says he is now continuing the process of becoming a legal citizen through his wife, who is a U.S. citizen.

Under President Donald Trump, Gonzalez says the number of raids by ICE has gone up fivefold in New York courthouses this year compared to last.

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