OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Federal agents served a search warrant on the West Oakland home of an immigrant family from Guatemala Wednesday morning, according to the Department of Homeland Security and Oakland police.
The Oakland Police Department said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents served a warrant in connection with an investigation of sex trafficking of juveniles.
People were seen being taken away from the home, including at least one person covered by a blanket and led to a waiting car by unidentified people in plain clothes.
The raid by federal agents prompted a gathering of neighbors and supporters protesting against the presence of ICE and advocating for the rights of undocumented immigrants.
Oakland, which has positioned itself as a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants, last month rescinded a cooperation agreement between the police department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which heads the HSI.
However, Oakland Police Public Information Officer Johnna Watson said Wednesday’s HSI raid was part of a criminal investigation and not a civil immigration or deportation action, adding that HSI focuses on transnational gangs, humans trafficking, child exploitation and narcotic enforcement.
“Yesterday, HSI headquarters in San Francisco contacted Oakland Police Chief Anne E. Kirkpatrick and requested two police officers to assist with traffic control,” said Watson. “Chief Kirkpatrick gave strict instructions to the commander and officers that they may not assist HSI with any enforcement efforts. The officers’ only role was that of traffic control and neighborhood safety.”
Watson said although the department no longer has a contract to actively participate in investigations with HSI, “the Department may assist our local, state, and federal agencies when requested as it pertains to traffic control, community safety and officer safety.”
In an email to KPIX 5, a DHS spokesman said , “Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are executing a federal search warrant this morning as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. This is an active investigation and no further information is available at this time.”
James Schwab, a spokesman for ICE in San Francisco, could not disclose what type of investigation was underway or whether any arrests had been made Wednesday morning.
He added that additional information was unlikely to be released Wednesday, but more details might be available Thursday.
“It’s an ongoing investigation,” Schwab said. “They’re going to have to go through everything.”
Oakland police were on the scene conducting traffic control, according to department officials. They referred any additional questions to HSI.
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