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      ICE suspends immigration enforcement program at the Lexington County Detention Center

      <font size="2">The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has suspended the handling of illegal immigrants by Lexington County deputies.</font>

      LEXINGTON (WACH) - The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has suspended the handling of illegal immigrants by Lexington County deputies.

      Vincent Picard, a spokesperson for ICE said the suspension started on June 20.

      Picard said illegal immigrants will remain at the Lexington County Jail with federal agents handling the ICE operations.

      He said the illegal immigrants usually stay in the Lexington Detention Center for a short time before being moved to an Atlanta facility.

      ICE said the suspension of deputies handling illegal immigrants will last until further notice.

      The Lexington County Sheriff's Department said "no employees lost their jobs or were laid off as a result of actions that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took in regards to the 287(g) immigration enforcement program at the Lexington County Detention Center. The Sheriff??s Department maintained an excellent working relationship with ICE".

      The suspension comes weeks after Lexington County Sheriff James Metts was suspended after being indicited by a federal grand jury in a 10-count indictment. According to the indictment, Metts accepted bribes from friends in return for using his position and power to interfere with the proper identification and processing of certain illegal aliens detained at the Lexington County Detention Center.

      Two other men, former Lexington councilman Danny Frazier and Greg Leon, have both been charged by the state grand jury with bribing Metts

      In the almost 30 page indictment, it is alleged Metts had telephone conversations with both Danny Frazier and Greg Leon beginning on September 6, 2011. The indictment states that on multiple occasions, Greg Leon had an illegal alien employee who had gotten arrested and taken to the Lexington County Detention Center. The indictment says Metts assisted in getting the illegal employee out of custody without fully identifying the employee or entering the employee into the ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) system. ICE is an investigative agency that enforces federal immigration laws as part of its homeland security mission.

      All three men are being charged with conspiring to use a cellphone to facilitate an unlawful activity (bribery). All three are also charged with using a cellphone to defraud the citizens of Lexington County of their ??right to honest services??. The men are also being charged with obstructing the law by not allowing the illegal aliens to be processed.

      Metts pleaded not guilty to the charges on July 1.

      He was released on a $100,000 unsecured bond.

      A federal court judge ordered the suspended sheriff to turn over his passport, guns and ordered Metts to have no contact with victims or witnesses in the investigation.

      Metts will return to court in September.