Cold as ICE
It's one of the more bizarre tales you'll ever hear from a Texas law enforcement officer: Last Friday, Dallas County Constable Mike Dupree admitted he arranged to have his ex-lover deported to his native Honduras after Dupree ordered one of his officers to arrest the young man at the constable's own apartment. Although some of his employees say that Dupree's relationship with the 20-year-old Honduran had turned sour, Dupree says that he was merely looking out for the youth's "interests and his safety and his well-being."
Oddly, this is the second relationship of Dupree's that ended with a trip to jail. In May 2002, Dupree was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault after his then 26-year-old boyfriend claimed that the constable drugged him and then performed oral sex on him after he was asleep. The complainant later recanted his story, and no charges were ever filed. The two broke up shortly afterward.
Dupree's latest romance didn't fare much better. Although nobody close to the constable would talk on the record about his relationship with a man named Angel Martinez, Dupree's own story shows him to be curiously lacking in judgment. The constable talked about Martinez after being questioned about the relationship, but for reasons that will soon become clear, the constable was short on details.
Dupree says that he met Martinez about a year ago and took him in after his friends put him out on the street. To hear Dupree tell it, the constable acted more like a father figure to the young man, who looked up to the veteran law enforcement officer.
Martinez stayed with Dupree at his Oak Cliff apartment for several months, but after a short while his behavior began to change and the constable became alarmed.
"You're talking about a kid who worked six days a week, went to church, listened to Christian music and then after a short period of time, got in with the wrong people, started listening to hard rap music and stopped working," Dupree says.
Dupree says he confronted Martinez about whether he was using drugs, but the young man lied to him and said he was clean. Shortly after, sources say, Martinez stole Dupree's gun and was involved in a heated incident with a stripper in which Dallas police officers were summoned. Dupree says he arrived at the scene and told the officers to arrest Martinez, but they declined. In any case, that proved to be the end of the constable's relationship with Martinez. "When he took my firearm, I told him, 'Angel, you have to move out.'"
At first, Dupree declined to talk about whether he had been intimate with Martinez, asking how that was relevant to Martinez's plight. Eventually, however, he conceded that the two had a brief physical relationship.
"At one point in time, yes, we were intimate. Several times. However, his position and my position was that's not what we wanted," Dupree says. "He looked at me more in a father role, and that's what he wanted. He wanted someone he can talk to. My family adopted him like he was one of their own. He was provided for, he was cared for."
A month after he moved out of Dupree's apartment, a broken Martinez called Dupree and asked for help. The two met at a parking lot in Northwest Dallas where a chastened Martinez admitted he fell in with a wayward crowd, Dupree says.
"'I need help, please help me,'" Dupree says Martinez told him. "And I said 'OK, are you going to be mad at the way I'm helping you?' And he said, 'No, Dad, I won't get mad.' That's what he called me. He called me Dad. He called me Papa."
As Dupree tells it, Martinez descended at breakneck pace into a world of drugs and gangs, a rather epic fall for a man the constable repeatedly describes as listening to Christian music. But at some point during his stay with Dupree, Martinez turned from Amy Grant to Mara Salvatrucha, the transnational gang with roots in Central America, more commonly known as MS-13. Dupree claims that Martinez would later admit to using drugs, although the constable suspects he might have been selling them as well. Other sources, however, tell the Dallas Observer that Martinez was a good kid who angered Dupree by dating a stripper at the Chicas Bonitas nightclub on Harry Hines Boulevard.
Dupree says that after he met with Martinez, he decided that the best thing for the young man was to be sent back to Honduras. He says he talked to the man's mother, who told the constable that she wanted her son home with her. Dupree says that when he discovered that Martinez had two warrants out for his arrest, he arranged to have his ex come over to his apartment. There he had one of his deputies, Alonso "Art" Lizcano arrest Martinez and take him to the Lew Sterrett Justice Center. In one of many strange subplots in Dupree's story, in March 2006 Lizcano was shot while working an off-duty job at the strip club on Harry Hines Boulevard where Martinez's girlfriend performed.
"Art Lizcano was shot and almost killed at a strip club—here this guy is dating a dancer there. It's the weirdest thing you ever heard of in your life," says one source who works for Dupree but did not want to be identified.
County records show that Martinez was arrested on December 6 and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement one day after it was determined he was an "illegal alien." Dupree says that he personally went to the jail to put an immigration hold on Martinez, which prevents an inmate from being released until a deportation hearing. He also packed Martinez's bags and gave the young man $300. Dupree says that Martinez was grateful for everything he had done, including arranging to have him deported.
"Frankly, I'm glad I did it, because at least he's still alive," the constable says.
Although Dupree says that his ex-lover had become entangled with drugs and gangs, the two outstanding warrants for his arrest were for driving without a license and not having driver's insurance. Martinez could not be reached for comment, and his whereabouts are unknown.
Oddly, Dupree says that Martinez wanted to return to Honduras. "He wanted to see his mom; all he kept talking about is he wanted to see his mom for Christmas."
Still, there are questions about why Dupree had to go to such unusual lengths to dispatch Martinez to Honduras. "If someone wants to be deported from this country, they can appear voluntarily and ask to leave the country," says attorney Dan Estrada, whose practice includes immigration law. Estrada says that this is a rare occurrence, and he can't recall any client coming to him and asking how he can be deported.
Experts on law enforcement were troubled by Dupree's story, particularly how personal the case clearly was to Dupree. "There needs to be some type of investigation by the county on whether there is an abuse of process; the problem is the victim is gone," says attorney David Davis, who has successfully sued law enforcement agencies throughout the state. "Someone who is willing to use their professional power because of a personal issue—there is a question if there are other moral or ethical boundaries they will cross."
Mike Keller, a former chief of police in Webster, Texas, who now works as a consultant on law enforcement issues, says that while Dupree had the legal right to arrest his ex-lover, he should have called an outside agency to remove any doubt. "Anytime you introduce your personal life into the business of policing, there is always a potential for somebody to cloud the issue."
Naturally, at a time when immigration has become a hot-button issue throughout Texas, Dupree's decision to deport Martinez will likely provoke a chorus of criticism. Although constables have police powers, their primary duty in an urban county such as Dallas is to serve civil court papers, not to work as immigration authorities.
Jesse Diaz, who serves as the president of a local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, says Dupree overstepped his job responsibilities. "If he is going to get involved in this situation, then he needs to get out of this situation and go work for ICE."
Dupree, however, sticks to his larger-than-life tale of how he acted to save his ex from the wrath of MS-13, a remarkable story if it's true. "He had people after him who were looking for him, who were going to kill him. It had nothing to do with him or I. I did this to save his life."
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