ICE frees more than dozen immigrant workers held captive in Hayward

HAYWARD — More than a dozen immigrant workers were freed Tuesday by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents from a Hayward home and an industrial building where they were being held in squalid conditions with no running water, according to police.

The workers were being forced to work on construction projects without pay elsewhere in the Bay Area, according to information provided to Hayward police.

ICE agents carried out search and arrest warrants at several locations in Hayward in connection with an ongoing forced-labor and human-trafficking investigation. Victim’s assistance workers were on hand to connect freed workers to nonprofit service groups if they wanted the help. The workers who were rescued were free to go.

The search and arrest warrants were carried out by the Homeland Security Investigations division of ICE,  which focuses on serious criminal activity, not immigration law enforcement.

“We are grateful to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for providing timely information in advance and following the operation,” Hayward Police Chief Mark Koller said in a statement.

“This kind of communication is vital to the ability of our police department to protect the public while maintaining the trust and cooperation of our community,” he said.

Police did not provide any additional information.

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