An Iowa high school student due to graduate last month ran afoul of federal immigration laws and was escorted out of the U.S. in April, authorities say. Three weeks later, Manuel Antonio Cano-Pacheco was dead, his throat slit in his native Mexico, the Des Moines Register reports.
He was, says the newspaper, "a symbol of gang supremacy in a country plagued by violent drug cartels."
Cano-Pacheco's parents brought him to the U.S. when he was 3, the Register says.
A spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Shawn Neudauer, said in a statement that Cano-Pacheco "illegally entered the U.S. with his parents on an unknown date. In May 2015, he was granted DACA status and employment authorization. In April 2017, ICE officers arrested Cano-Pacheco at the Polk County (Iowa) Jail following his conviction on a misdemeanor drug charge. About this same time, Cano-Pacheco was also convicted on a separate misdemeanor charge in Polk County.
"ICE issued Cano-Pacheco a notice to appear before a federal immigration judge. Based on his criminal convictions, his DACA status was terminated making him amenable to deportation. After posting an immigration bond, he was released from ICE custody pending an immigration court hearing.
"While awaiting his immigration hearing, Cano-Pacheco was convicted in Iowa of two more misdemeanors, including for driving under the influence.
"On April 10, 2018, Cano-Pacheco requested and was granted voluntary departure, "under safeguards," by a federal immigration judge. He returned to Mexico at the border in Laredo, Texas under ICE escort April 24."
Neudauer stressed to CBS News that Cano-Pacheco technically wasn't deported. "He asked the judge for, and was granted Voluntary Departure, which means he was allowed to depart the U.S. without the penalties of a formal deportation."
Being deported usually includes a ban on returning to the U.S. for a period of years, Neudauer explains. Voluntary Departure doesn't carry that penalty, and people who are granted V.D. are allowed to come back legally, via a visa or some other legal means.
DACA, formally known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, was instituted by former President Obama and allowed certain young people brought to the U.S. as children without visas to avoid deportation.
Cano-Pacheco's brushes with the law began when he was stopped for speeding last fall, the newspaper says.
The Register reports that last month, in the northwestern Mexican state of Zacatecas, which has been overrun by deadly violence and drug cartels, Cano-Pacheco went out to get food with another person. Both were killed. Cano-Pacheo's throat was slit.
A friend, Juan Verduzco, 20, told the Register the other person was an acquaintance of Cano-Pacheo's cousin, whom the killers apparently knew. Cano-Pacheco "was in the wrong place at the wrong time," the Register quotes Verduzco as saying.
Verduzco's relatives from Mexico say it's dangerous to go out at night in Zacatecas.
A small memorial service was held for Cano-Pacheco in Des Moines Sunday, the Register reports.
He had a year-old son with his girlfriend, the newspaper adds.