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Man Held by INS Dies; Suicide Termed Likely

October 09, 1998

A 30-year-old Mexican detainee was found dead at the Immigration and Naturalization Service detention facility in San Pedro, apparently from a suicide, authorities said.

The FBI is investigating the death, which is a standard procedure, said Leonard Kovensky, assistant district director for the INS in Los Angeles.

Ernesto Espinoza Jimenez was found hanging at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in his single cell in the "administrative segregation" wing of the INS lockup. Officials declined to say why Espinoza was in segregation--and refused to release further details.

Authorities said it was the first apparent suicide in recent years at the cramped San Pedro facility, where about 500 people are being held pending the outcome of their deportation cases.

Espinoza died a day before he was to be deported back to Mexico, and 12 days after being arrested by the INS, said Fernando Herrerra, an official of the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles.

Another Mexican detainee, Martin Rojas Martinez, 30, took his life in March while in INS custody at Del Amo Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Torrance, where he had been transferred from the San Pedro lockup.

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