PORTAGE — Federal immigration officials have filed paperwork indicating they believe the cook arrested a week ago at a bar owned by a Portage city councilman may not be a legal resident of the United States.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed Friday it has filed on Miguel Cambray-Moreno what is known as a detainer, which asks local law enforcement to notify ICE 48 hours ahead of releasing him so the agency can take him into custody.

Cambray-Moreno, 54, of Hammond, is currently in custody at the Porter County Jail and is facing felony charges of dealing and possession of narcotics and misdemeanor counts of possessing a controlled substance and resisting law enforcement.

City Councilman Mark Oprisko, who owns Marko's Bar & Grill at 2385 Willowcreek Road, where the arrest occurred, said Monday afternoon Cambray-Moreno is a legal citizen, despite Cambray-Moreno allegedly telling police otherwise when he was taken into custody.

When reached Friday by email, Oprisko said his accountant assured him earlier this week that, "There has never been any indication that he has been illegally paid."

His name and Social Security number were never rejected by the Social Security Administration since his hiring just more than three years ago and his unemployment tax has never been questioned, according to Oprisko. His W-2 wage forms also have never triggered a red flag.

As far as the accusations of drug sales, Oprisko said he has fired Cambray-Moreno.

"I don't condone that kind of behavior," he said.

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Cambray-Moreno appeared earlier this week for an initial hearing on the charges before Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford and was ordered held without bond, according to court documents.

Portage police said they responded to the bar and grill shortly before 4:30 p.m. Oct. 11 in response to a report of Cambray-Moreno allegedly passing a bag of white powder to another person.

When confronted by police, Cambray-Moreno denied doing anything wrong and then reportedly attempted to flee into a restroom, police said. He attempted to reach into his pocket during the confrontation and wound up on the floor with an officer before being brought under control, police said.

Officers said they found seven clear plastic bags containing 8 grams of white powder later identified as cocaine, along with four pills identified as the sedative Alprazolam.

He also had a Mexican Consulate identification card and told officers he was an illegal immigrant, police said.

"We're pleased to be able to take a dealer of illegal drugs off our streets," Portage Police Chief Troy Williams said Friday.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.