ICE, FBI raid came with little notice
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
ASPEN”Eight people arrested in Aspen Thursday for alleged immigration violations are being held in Park County Jail.
The early morning sting at 560 Spruce St. came with little warning, according to the Aspen Police Department, which participated in the raid as an assisting agency.
One Aspen police officer accompanied Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers on the 7:30 a.m. warrantless “knock and talk” and search by consent. The result was eight arrests for immigration violations.
Federal officials investigating document fraud at the house declined to provide more details Friday.
An ICE spokesman said the suspects are being held in the Park County Jail on the Front Range, but would not release any further information pending an end to the joint FBI/ICE investigation.
“ICE has a mandate from Congress to enforce the immigration and customs laws of the United States,” ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok wrote in an e-mail stating that disclosing more details would compromise the investigation.
Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor said federal agents gave little notice of their arrival Thursday morning shortly after 7 a.m., and he had no time to inform deputies at the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
Despite a recent history of miscommunication between the police department and sheriff, Pryor said that Aspen officers were only asked to assist and were not part of the investigation.
On Friday, Sheriff Bob Braudis said there was no miscommunication over the morning raid, although memories are still fresh of being kept in the dark over a 2005 drug raid involving Aspen police (under former chief Loren Ryerson) and federal agents.
“My trust level of Richard Pryor is sterling,” Braudis said.
Feds ask for cooperation from local agencies simply as a courtesy, Pryor said.
“Where federal laws have been broken, a federal agency has the right to intervene,” Pryor said.
But Pryor had no information about the federal case.
Rob Gile, a next-door neighbor of the house on Spruce Street, said he had no problems with the men living at the house and was surprised by Thursday’s raid.
“I didn’t know their names or anything, but I saw ’em and said hi,” Gile said.
The state of the house, however, worries Gile.
“It’s a slum house,” Gile said, adding that he has expressed concern about overcrowding, and potential building-code and fire-hazard violations. “Is it a health hazard.”
Gile said the yard was usually strewn with garbage in a neighborhood of mostly families with kids.
The house has been for sale for three years, Gile said, adding that the owner, Donald Delise of Woody Creek, didn’t care about the place.
“The only people that are going to rent this are not people that you want to have as neighbors,” Gile said. “My fault is with the landlord.”
The tenants, eight of whom were carted off on immigration violations Thursday, were, according to Gile, quiet.
“They had a lease and they’re all employees of the community,” Delise said of his tenants, but would not comment further about the incident Thursday.
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Local fire officials in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties are heightening their fire concerns, and starting this week Stage 1 fire restrictions will be enacted. Stage 1 means no campfires in undeveloped sites, no fireworks and no smoking outside unless it’s in an area cleared of all combustible materials.