San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has deflected blame in the release of a Mexican national facing murder charges in last week’s waterfront slaying by demanding to know why federal authorities returned him to San Francisco to face a 20-year-old marijuana charge. The answer, it turns out, is that the Sheriff's Department asked federal officials to do so, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Mirkarimi's agency requested custody of Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez as he was completing a 46-month stint in federal prison in March. Lopez-Sanchez had been deported five times to Mexico and had been imprisoned for illegally re-entering the U.S.
The federal Bureau of Prisons alerted the Sheriff's Department in March that Lopez-Sanchez was going to be released. Mirkarimi's agency, realizing that Lopez-Sanchez was wanted on a $5,000 bench warrant related to a 1995 marijuana possession-for-sale case, asked prison officials March 23 to hold him and to notify San Francisco authorities “when the subject is ready for our pick-up.” He in San Francisco on March 26 and was released April 15. He was arrested last week in the July 1 shooting death of 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee attacked Mirkarimi, saying his decision to cut off even basic communication with federal immigration officials led to Lopez-Sanchez's release.