A South Korean man in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center in Bakersfield, California, died Sunday.
Choung Woong Ahn, 74, was pronounced dead at 9:52 p.m. local time May 17, 2020 by medical professionals. Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center staff found Ahn unresponsive in his cell. Efforts by facility staff and emergency personnel to revive him were unsuccessful. The preliminary cause of death appears to be self-inflicted strangulation; however, the case is currently under investigation.
Consistent with the agency’s protocols, the appropriate agencies have been notified about the death, including the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). Additionally, ICE has notified the South Korean consulate and requested that they notify Ahn’s next of kin.
Ahn was lawfully admitted as a permanent resident to the United States in 1988.
On June 25, 2013, the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, convicted Ahn for the offense of attempted murder with an enhancement for using a firearm and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
He entered ICE custody Feb. 21 this year upon his release from Solano State Prison, Vacaville, California and was taken to Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center.
The U. S. District Court of the Northern California District of California denied Ahn’s request for bail on May 13. At the time of his death, Ahn was in custody pending removal proceedings.