SAN MATEO, Calif. (KTVU) - Several San Mateo residents had a rude awakening Wednesday. Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents raided several apartment complexes and businesses in the north side of town.
Damaged door frames, and frayed nerves greeted a handful or residents of the Poplar Avenue Apartments Wednesday morning.
“I was sleeping here, and they come and throw the door open,” said Alfonso Torres.
He’s been in San Mateo visiting his father the past two months. Around 6 a.m. ATF agents knocked on the door to their apartment. Agents then forced the door open with Juan Torres on the other side. Alfonso says agents didn’t show a warrant, or explain the reason behind the search and rough treatment which allegedly left marks on his cheek and ear.
“They throw me on the floor, and then put a foot on my face. You see?,” said Torres, pointing to marks on his right cheek and right ear. He also complained of pain in his left shoulder.
Neighbors say a pregnant woman visiting from Guadalajara, Mexico, received similar treatment when police went into a second unit..
“Is that fair to put her on the ground? Inhuman!? Treated like an animal?! That’s not fair,” said Augustine Torres.
Agents did leave a search warrant after breaking open the front door of Los Primos Taqueria. Owners Jesus and Olga Marquez say one of their employees lives at the Poplar Arms, and that the ATF was searching their restaurant for drugs..
“They’re looking for drugs, but they can’t find nothing. I’m a nice person. I go to check with the police and the police tell me nothing,” said Jesus Marquez.
The only thing the ATF would say is, “For the safety of everyone involved, we are unable to discuss any information.” A statement emailed from the San Mateo city police department says Wednesday’s “multi-jurisdictional criminal investigation included search and arrest warrants at a number of locations.” And that the raids, "Included the use of distractionary devices that produce a loud explosive-like sound.”
None of the agencies involved will say if suspects were arrested. Alfonso Torres says two men out of the eight people living inside his apartment were taken into custody. After two months in the Bay Area, he says today’s intrusion tells him it’s time to head back to Seattle..
“No more California,” said Alfonso Torres, as he stood next to his father.
It’s unclear if the ATF will compensate either the renters or the businesses for damage done to their property. It’s also uncertain where Alfonso and the rest of the people staying in his dad’s apartment will sleep tonight, since the door locks and frame are damaged. The ATF promises to have more information Thursday.