Immigration Officials Bust Shellfish Workers
U.S. Border Patrol agents took 12 Washington state shellfish farm workers suspected of being illegal immigrants into custody earlier this month.
The men, who worked for Penn Cove Shellfish in Coupeville, Wash., were detained Sept. 11 when their van passed through a checkpoint about 10 miles north of Quilcene on Hood Canal, according to a report by the Whidbey Examiner.
Border Patrol spokesman Mike Bermudez told the newspaper that the agents were acting on a tip. "Based on some intelligence we received, we were able to coordinate an operation to apprehend these individuals," said Bermudez.
After their arrest, the workers were detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said Lorie Dankers, a spokeswoman for the agency. All of the workers were from Mexico; five remain at the facility, while seven were flown back home. Dankers did not confirm that Penn Cove Shellfish was under investigation nor say what penalties the company may face.
"It's beyond our control. We're not immigration experts," said Penn Cove Shellfish owner Ian Jefferds, adding that all 12 men provided valid documentation before they were hired.