NewsCovering Kern County


South Korean man in ICE custody passes away in Bakersfield

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Posted at 8:26 AM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 12:04:42-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A South Korean man identified at 74-year-old Choung Woong Ahn, was pronounced dead on Sunday while in custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center in Bakersfield, California.

On Sunday at approximately 9:52 p.m. Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center staff found Ahn unresponsive in his cell, efforts by facility staff and emergency personnel to revive him were unsuccessful.

The cause of death appears to be self-inflicted strangulation; however, the case is currently under investigation.

The appropriate agencies have been notified about the death, including the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility.

ICE has also notified the South Korean consulate and requested that they notify Ahn’s next of kin.

The agency’s comprehensive review will be conducted by ICE senior leadership, including Enforcement and Removal Operations and the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor.

Ahn was lawfully admitted as a permanent resident to the U.S. in 1988.

On June 25, 2013, the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, convicted Ahn for the offense of attempted murder with an enhancement for using a firearm and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.

He entered ICE custody Feb. 21 this year upon his release from Solano State Prison, Vacaville, California and was taken to Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center.

The U.S. District Court of the Northern California District of California denied Ahn’s request for bail on May 13.

At the time of his death, Ahn was in custody pending removal proceedings.

Pursuant to our commitment to the welfare of those in the agency’s custody, ICE annually spends more than $269 million on the spectrum of healthcare services provided to detainees.