BEAUFORT, SC -As part of a joint ongoing criminal investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and Beaufort County Sheriff's Office ICE Task Force officers executed search warrants today at two restaurants and five residences located in Beaufort and Bluffton. The warrants were executed in connection to allegations relating to the harboring, transportation and hiring of illegal aliens.
The announcement was made by Kevin F. McDonald, acting United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina, Ken Burkhart, ICE assistant special agent in charge over the ICE Office of Investigations in South Carolina, and Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner.
The warrants were executed at two Jade Garden Chinese restaurants and several residences. The restaurants are located at 2317 Boundary St. in Beaufort and 1304 Fording Island Rd. in Bluffton.
During the execution of the criminal warrants, ICE agents administratively arrested 15 workers who are in the country illegally. The owner of the restaurant, an ICE immigration fugitive, was among those arrested.
All of the individuals taken into custody during the operation were photographed, fingerprinted and processed by ICE. They were also interviewed by ICE to elicit information from the arrestees about possible health, caregiver or other humanitarian issues, and to identify any urgent medical needs.
The 15 individuals arrested are from various countries to include China, Mexico and Guatemala. They will have full access to telephones, attorneys and visitation by family members.
This is an ICE and BCSO criminal investigation with support from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of South Carolina. BCSO currently maintains the only ICE Task Force in the state of South Carolina. The task force consists of five sheriff's deputies who have been dually commissioned as ICE agents, and who are trained to work side by side with their federal counterparts in conducting and carrying out ICE investigations.
The criminal investigation into this case is ongoing. The U.S. Attorney's Office will make a determination on whether federal criminal charges will be pursued.