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Illegal alien in court over driving charges

Celso Iban Campo-Durates

Celso Iban Campo-Durates

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Dacula resident Aubrey Sosebee, an octogenarian Army veteran who served during World War II, was walking to his mailbox on Ga. Highway 124 one day several years ago when an errant driver plowed over him, then fled the scene.

Sosebee's death did not come quick or easy.

"He was in the hospital for several months and never recovered," said Sosebee's daughter-in-law, Mary Sosebee. "It was a long, horrible, grueling experience for him. He died a terrible death. He suffered."

The man who eventually pleaded guilty to hitting Sosebee -- Celso Iban Campo-Durates of Lawrenceville -- was not only uninsured and unlicensed, he was in the United States illegally. The family agreed to a plea deal on lesser charges of hit and run on one condition: that Durates be deported. Last they knew, he was sentenced to two years in 2005.

The family was shocked to receive a letter this month from the Gwinnett District Attorney's Office informing them Durates is in America and allegedly still driving Gwinnett roadways, as evidenced by a May arrest.

"I thought he was out of the country," said the victim's son, Rusty Sosebee, outside a probation revocation hearing Thursday afternoon for Durates.

The case illustrates the hazards of unchecked illegal immigration and shows a convict who's slipping through the cracks, according to family members and a pro-enforcement activist at the hearing. A prosecutor called it another day at the office.

Durates appeared in Gwinnett Superior Court on Thursday to again answer to charges that he was driving unlicensed in Gwinnett. Records show he's been arrested three times since October on similar charges, twice by Lawrenceville police and most recently by Lilburn police.

He was released to Immigration and Customs Enforcement after at least one of those arrests, jail records show, but his movements afterward were unclear.

The hearing, meant to determine if Durates' probation should be revoked, was continued to next month because he has not been appointed an attorney. Donning a green jail jumpsuit, he told Superior Court Judge Timothy Hamil, via an interpreter, that he'd been deported and has not violated his probation.

Assistant District Attorney Rich Vandever said his office has no record of Durates being deported. As best Vandever could tell Thursday, Durates would be held for ICE on the recent charges if his probation was revoked or not.

ICE officials could not be reached Thursday for information on Durates' deportation history.

"We're dealing with deportation and the federal government," Vandever said. "This is something that we do on a daily basis."

Also in attendance was D.A. King, founder of The Dustin Inman Society, a coalition that blasts government enforcement of illegal immigration measures. King's group is named in memory of a Woodstock teen killed in a similar case by an unlicensed, illegal alien driver, he said.

Cases like Sosebee's are prevalent, King said.

"This happens far too often," he said. "Millions of people across the country are victimized because our federal government refuses to secure our borders."