OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Two men from Guatemala were seen being taken away from an Oakland house on Wednesday morning after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations served a federal search warrant "as part of an ongoing criminal investigation."
HSI spokesman James Schwab said in an email that he could not elaborate on what was going on. But Oakland police said agents were investigating a possible human trafficking scheme involving minors.
Oakland police said "HSI is conducting a criminal investigation, not a civil immigration or deportation action.
This branch focuses on Transnational Gangs, Human Trafficking, Human Smuggling, Child Exploitation and Narcotic Enforcement."
A woman inside the house, however, told KTVU that agents said they were there looking at her family's janitorial business. Her adopted brother and brother-in-law, who are both undocumented, were taken away by federal agents, she said.
She said she knew nothing of the human trafficking allegations. The home in question is on the 700 block of 27th Street.
"I was sleeping," she said, describing the moment agents came through her door. "I heard screams." As soon as agents arrived about 6:30 a.m., neighbors called for legal help. Rapid Response Network volunteers and other activists descended on the steps of the home, trying to protect victims and provide aid and support.
Some also began criticizing Oakland police for helping to conduct traffic for the federal agency. Several neighbors were not happy that the police were there. Drawings in chalk said "Oakland is a sanctuary city," and "Get ICE Out."
Oakland police chief Anne Kirkpatrick said in a statement to KTVU that two police officers were asked to help with traffic but that they were not assisting with any "enforcement efforts."
KTVU's Allie Rasmus and Jorge Bustos contributed to this report.