The person arrested Friday in Berkeley by ICE investigators is a U.S. citizen, federal authorities said Wednesday as part of an outreach campaign to address community concerns and misinformation following the arrest.
The arrest was part of a criminal investigation, and a matter of public safety, said Jerry Templet, the Northern California-based deputy special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a branch of ICE, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Templet said, as a result of the ongoing investigation, specific details about the arrest cannot be released.
“We had agents that were out following the investigation to its rational conclusion, questioning the individual, in an effort to push the investigation forward,” he said. No information could be shared about the type of crime under investigation, he added. But local authorities said last week it may have been narcotic in nature.
Neighbors near Parker and Ellsworth streets said it was a man who was arrested around 10 a.m. Friday. Berkeley police did not participate in the enforcement effort.
HSI is the second-largest investigative agency within the federal government, Templet said Wednesday. It investigates some 450 different statutes that can range from child exploitation and human trafficking to narcotics trafficking, transnational gangs and trade fraud: anything that crosses the U.S. border.
“If HSI is involved, and we have an ongoing criminal investigation, most of the time it has absolutely nothing to do with immigration status,” Templet said.
ICE representatives said Wednesday that matters “came to a head” Friday in Berkeley when activists turned up to protest after the arrest had taken place. Protesters shared the message to “resist the ICE movement,” and were “spreading some information that is not accurate,” according to Templet.
Initially, one activist network and some media outlets reported that several people had been taken into custody by ICE. One activist group called for “an emergency response protest” outside Old City Hall and told its supporters three people had been arrested.
ICE has said that was never the case; only one arrest was made.
Templet said, oftentimes, community members who show up to protest HSI enforcement efforts may not have all the details. He said it can be dangerous for the public, the officers, and the case if activists attempt to impede law enforcement operations. He also said “sending activists out” to an active arrest scene can “put everyone in a bad situation.” He said the agency is “chasing some of the worst criminals” in the world, and the presence of an audience can be a challenge.
“If there’s a critical incident, everybody’s in danger,” he said. “We’re responsible for anyone who shows up on the scene.”
Friday’s arrest was made without incident, however, he added.
The internet and social media have contributed to the challenge, especially if activists are streaming live.
“That can have dangerous consequences,” he said.
Templet said HSI will say more about the case “when we can,” when it would not jeopardize the case or those involved.
He said be believes local residents will be “happy that we were engaged in this type of investigation” once the details can be shared.
Templet said, further, anyone who is arrested by HSI has “all the due process that is afforded to them by the constitution.”