News

ICE: Death Of Detainee Held At Ga. Immigration Center Appears To Be Suicide

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says staff at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin found Efrain De La Rosa unresponsive in his cell. He died Tuesday at a hospital in Cuthbert after efforts to revive him failed.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says staff at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin found Efrain De La Rosa unresponsive in his cell. He died Tuesday at a hospital in Cuthbert after efforts to revive him failed.
Credit Kate Brumback / Associated Press file
Audio version of this story here.

Authorities say a Mexican man held at a South Georgia immigration detention center has died in an apparent suicide.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a news release Thursday that 40-year-old Efrain De La Rosa was pronounced dead around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

ICE says staff at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin found De La Rosa unresponsive in his cell. He died at a hospital in Cuthbert after efforts to revive him failed.

ICE says the case is under investigation but the “preliminary cause of death appears to be self-inflicted strangulation.”

De La Rosa was handed over to ICE on March 11 by law enforcement in Wake County, North Carolina, after a March 9 felony conviction for larceny. He was in deportation proceedings at the time of his death.

Azadeh Shahshahani is with Project South, a legal advocacy group.

“He was actually placed in solitary for 10 days before he killed himself,” Shahshahani said. “This is consistent action and unfortunately, it’s becoming a pattern.”

In May 2017, another Stewart Detention Center detainee died of suicide while in solitary confinement. Jean Jimenez-Joseph, who was 27-years-old, hanged himself with a bedsheet in his cell.

The AJC reported a family member told the newspaper that De La Rosa suffered from bipolar disorder.

Earlier this year, exclusive documents obtained by WABE found the detention center continuously dealt with medical staff shortages.

De La Rosa’s apparent suicide is the third death there since May of last year.

Shahshahani says her group has been continuously monitoring what she calls human rights violations at Stewart.

“That includes the overuse of solitary confinement, the arbitrary use of solitary, and the lack of adequate access to mental and physical health care,” she said.

In January, a 33-year-old Yulio Castro-Garrido died after being diagnosed at the facility with pneumonia.

De La Rosa is ICE’s 8th death this year.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include original reporting from WABE.