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The Humboldt County Drug Task Force served three search warrants yesterday in Fortuna and Hydesville, and local officers were assisted by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Two arrests were made.
According to Lt. Bryan Quenell with the Drug Task Force, the ICE agents were present only to translate and not to take immigration enforcement action, but the presence of ICE agents in Fortuna sparked fear in the local Latino community. Several readers reached out to the Outpost with stories of people being taken from their homes.
The search warrants were served at private residences, according to Quenell, with the operations lasting from early morning to early evening.
James Schwab, an ICE spokesman from the San Francisco office, told the Outpost that community reports of immigration actions have increased dramatically since President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, though he said the agency has not changed its operational procedures. “Everything we do is very targeted,” Schwab said.
Fernando Paz, a community activist with
the True North Organizing Network and the nonprofit El Centro del Pueblo, spent much of yesterday trying to find the people who were arrested in hopes of connecting them with legal services. Paz, like others in the community, was under the impression that the arrests were made by ICE for the purpose of deportation.
“We’ve seen that [ICE] has been expediting deportations across the nation unless [arrestees] have a lawyer,” Paz said. “We just want to make sure they have access to legal services.”
After learning that yesterday’s actions weren’t tied to immigration enforcement, Paz said the community response was revealing nonetheless.
“It’s just so telling that even this kind of police action inspires so much fear in the community,” he said.
El Centro de Pueblo will issue a press release later today, Paz added, and the group plans to hold a news conference tomorrow, in part to inform local members of the Latino community of their rights.
Quenell, meanwhile, said a press release on yesterday’s actions is coming later this morning. We’ll update this post when that information becomes available. [See link to update at the top of this post.]
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Note: This post has been updated to reflect that Paz is no longer with the True North Organizing Group.