RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Over the past year, nearly 200 suspected illegal immigrants have been released from the Wake County Jail.

U.S Attorney Robert Higdon says it’s because the sheriff’s office isn’t honoring ICE detainers. ​

“The detainer is asking the sheriff to hold that individual, again, an individual who is already in custody, for a short period of time until ICE agents can take custody of that individual,” Higdon explained.

But Higdon says the Wake County Sheriff’s Office is refusing.

“ICE agents have been required to go out in the community, investigate the whereabouts of these individuals who were recently in sheriff’s custody, locate them and arrest them,” Higdon added.

Over the past week, Higdon says Raleigh area ICE agents arrested 16 illegal immigrants who all have criminal histories ranging from DWI, burglary, assault, assault on a child, robbery, drug possession and resisting a public officer, Higdon said.

“One individual has been confirmed to be a member of a transnational street gang, Sureño 13,” he added.

Four of the 16 arrested were previously in the custody of the Wake County Sheriff’s Office. ​

Eight were previously deported and have been federally charged for returning to the United States.​

The other eight are being processed through the immigration system.​

By law — Higdon says sheriffs don’t have to honor detainers. But he’s renewing his push for their cooperation.​

“My belief is that we are essentially victimizing the immigrant community because these people are committing crimes, have been charged and convicted of crimes before. That’s the type of person that’s being released back into the community,” Higdon said.

CBS 17 reached out to Sheriff Gerald Baker asking why his office won’t honor the ICE detainers — but he had no comment. ​