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Guatemalan man held at immigrant detention center dies of heart attack

Guatemalan man held at immigrant detention center dies of heart attack
The fenced-in yard at the Adelanto Detention Center. A detainee at the center died Wednesday in a nearby hospital, immigration officials said. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

A Guatemalan man who was being held in California's largest immigrant detention center died Wednesday at an Inland Empire hospital, authorities said.

Jose Manuel Azurida-Hernandez had been hospitalized since Saturday after suffering a heart attack at Adelanto Detention Facility, according to a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Doctors at St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley provided treatment to Azurida-Hernandez, 54. But his health worsened and he was placed on life support, ICE said.

Azurida-Hernandez had previously been at Wasco State Prison near Bakersfield to complete a 16-month sentence on an attempted robbery conviction.

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Since he had immigrated to the U.S. illegally, he was transferred to ICE custody on June 22 after his release from prison.

The Adelanto center, which holds about 2,000 detainees, has been criticized in recent months for providing inadequate medical care.

A letter sent to ICE in July by more than two dozen members of Congress listed nearly a dozen cases of alleged medical neglect at the facility, which is operated by Florida-based Geo Group. Despite the protests of congressional representatives, the center was expanded by about 650 beds.

And last month, more than two dozen asylum seekers launched a hunger strike to protest conditions at the center and delays in processing their immigration cases.

At the time of his death, Azurida-Hernandez's deportation case was pending with the Department of Justice.

After he arrived at the Adelanto center, Azurida-Hernandez received a medical screening and no "serious health issues" were detected, ICE said.

ICE officials notified Azurida-Hernandez's family and the Guatemalan Consulate after he was hospitalized.

In accordance with protocol, state and local law enforcement agencies -- as well as the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general -- have been notified of his death.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno.

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