U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents came to Jersey City to assist in a “narcotics-related operation” yesterday, but declined to say much beyond that since the investigation is ongoing.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“On Tuesday, November 17, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers were assisting law enforcement partners in a narcotics-related operation. At this time, these are all the details we can disclose, since the investigation is ongoing,” said CBP spokesman Anthony Bucci.
Joel Brooks, a member of the Northern New Jersey Democratic Socialists of America (the Hudson County branch), as well as the Hudson County Progressive Alliance, said he saw two marked CBP trucks parked on Gifford Avenue and John F. Kennedy Boulevard around 3:45 p.m. yesterday.
He said neither the Jersey City Police Department of Hudson County Sheriff’s Office were present when he was on his way to the Walgreens on JFK Boulevard, which was also the case when he was walking back about an hour later.
Brooks also said he recorded a short conversation with the agents on the scene via his cell phone, where they indicated that they weren’t ICE and worked for CBP.
“It was disturbing to see CBP openly operating in Jersey City given massive human rights violations documented in the last four years. Also their response ‘we are not ICE’ was ridiculous – as a layperson there is no difference,” he told HCV.
Federal regulations allow CBP to operate within 100 miles of any “external boundary” in the country and their authority also allows them to operate immigration checkpoints.
With that in mind, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop signed an executive order back in February 2017 declaring the municipality a sanctuary city, which says that the JCPD won’t assist federal agencies like ICE and CBP unless mandated by a warrant or court order.
“The cooperation of Jersey City’s immigrant communities is essential to prevent and solve crimes and maintain public order, safety and security in the entire City and is especially critical to the success of community policing which depends on trust with every community,” the order says.
Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro said in an email this morning that Police Chief Michael Kelly’s office informed him yesterday that they were unaware of any CBP activity and were not assisting them in any way.
“Jersey City’s Sanctuary City Executive Order affords key safeguards for Jersey City residents, ensuring accountability and coordination when federal immigration officers patrol our communities,” he noted.
“If CBP was in Jersey City for a narcotics investigation, hopefully they obtained a valid and properly issued judicial criminal warrant and notified local law enforcement and city officials of their presence and activities.”