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The man accused of wrecking a semi along a highway in Colorado last week, killing one person and injuring another, is an illegal immigrant who has a long history of removal from the United States, authorities said. 

Ignacio Cruz-Mendoza, 47, of Mexico, is facing reckless driving and homicide-related charges in connection with the June 11 crash.

Mendoza was hauling a load of steep pipe on Hwy 285 near Conifer when he lost control of the semi, sending it rolling onto its side as it veered off the road, Colorado State Patrol (CSP) said.

A load of pipe and angle iron spilled out of the semi and onto five other vehicles. One person was killed and another was seriously injured, CSP said. Mendoza was not injured. 

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The wreckage blocked the highway in both directions, leaving it closed for more than 12 hours as authorities worked to clear the roadway. 

Cruz-Mendoza was arrested and booked into the Jefferson County Jail. CSP said he does not have a local address. 

A spokesperson for ICE confirmed that Cruz-Mendoza has a long history of removal to Mexico, stretching back more than two decades. ICE first became aware of Cruz-Mendoza in April 2002 when he was arrested on local charges in Jefferson County, Oregon, the ICE spokesperson said. 

wreckage on US 285 near Conifer, Colorado

An immigration judge ordered Cruz-Mendoza removed to Mexico on May 29, 2002. Since then, he has been removed from the U.S. or voluntarily returned to Mexico 16 times, ICE said. 

ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Denver has reviewed Cruz-Mendoza’s arrest with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and lodged a detainer to be notified of his possible release. 

Online court records show Cruz-Mendoza remains in custody. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 30. 

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