ICE: Man detained driving pregnant wife to hospital was wanted for murder

A Southern California man who was detained by immigration officials while taking his pregnant wife to deliver their baby on Wednesday was wanted in Mexico on homicide charges, authorities said.

Joel Arrona-Lara, 36, was taken into custody in San Bernardino after stopping for gas with his wife and being questioned by two agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

His wife, Maria del Carmen Venegas, who was headed to a scheduled cesarean section, told Univision that her husband was taken away after failing to provide identification, which she said he had forgotten at home in their haste. She insisted that her husband had never been in trouble with the law before, including a traffic ticket.

“We don’t know what happened,” she said.

In a statement obtained by HuffPost on Sunday, a representative for ICE said that Arrona-Lara was the subject of an “outstanding warrant issued for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges.”

“Mr. Arrona-Lara is currently in ICE custody pending removal proceedings with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR),” the statement said. “ICE continues to focus its enforcement resources on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.”

His legal defense team, reached by ABC News , said it will continue to seek his release and that the allegations against him in Mexico are unconfirmed.

“Mr. Arrona denies any criminal history in Mexico and he is unaware of any criminal proceedings in Mexico in which he is named as a defendant,” his defense team said in a statement. “The family denies allegations as well. In the charging documents he is charged with being in the country without documents. He is not in extradition proceedings.”

Venegas, speaking with The Associated Press from the hospital, said she came to the U.S. with her husband 12 years ago from the city of Leon in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato.

She said they do not have legal authorization to live in the U.S., and all five of their children are U.S. citizens. Her husband is the sole provider of the family.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.