Illegal immigrant drank beer after Fort Mill DUI crash with 3 kids in car, police say

A Georgia man suspected of being an undocumented immigrant crashed his car into a York County ditch while driving drunk with three children in the car, police said.

Venancio Cardenas, 24, of Uvalda, Ga., was charged Sunday by Fort Mill Police Department officers with child endangerment and DUI, said Maj. Bryan Zachary of the Fort Mill Police Department.

Cardenas was drinking a beer and refused to put it down when officers arrived at the scene on Blossom Terrace near Spratt Street in Fort Mill, according to a police report. The car was in a ditch and three children -- ages 1, 3 and 4 -- had been riding in the car at the time of the wreck, officers said.

Police did not report any serious injuries to the children.

The relationship between the three children and Cardenas is unclear.

Cardenas refused to interact with officers on scene, Zachary said.

Cardenas also is being held in the York County jail without bond by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency on suspicion of being an undocumented immigrant, according to police and jail records. ICE put a hold on Cardenas after he was booked into the jail, records show.

York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson participates in the ICE 287g program that checks the immigration status of people who are charged with crimes and booked into the jail. Other area counties, including Mecklenburg County in North Carolina that serves Charlotte, do not participate in the 287g program.

Issuance of an immigration detainer generally means the person is a foreign national, subject to removal from the country, according to ICE spokesperson Bryan Cox. A detainer serves notice to local law enforcement that ICE seeks to take the person into its custody when they would otherwise be released by the agency if a person was able to make bond.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.