ALLEN, Texas - Nearly 300 workers were taken into custody after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials raided a tech company in Allen on Wednesday.
The surprise operation took place at CVE Technology Group, a company that repairs cell phones and other electronics. The building is located on Enterprise Drive, near the Central Expressway.
Federal agents said it was the largest work-site raid this decade. It was so large that several buses were brought in to transfer all the people suspected of working in the United States illegally to detention centers.
SKY 4 captured the chaotic scene as some 200 law enforcement agents executed criminal search warrants around noon. Video showed people being escorted out of the building and loaded onto the buses.
A total of 280 CVE employees were arrested for administrative immigration violations. They will be interviewed by ICE staff to determine who will remain in custody and who will qualify for humanitarian release.
Officials said the investigation began in January after ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) received tips that the Allen-based company was knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants who were using fraudulent documents.
HSI began an audit of the company's I-9 forms, which confirmed numerous hiring irregularities.
“These companies need to go about it properly,” said Katrina Berger, Special Agent in Charge with HSI Dallas. “They need to be using a legal workforce. It’s required by law.”
The 280 employees who were arrested are from different counties. Officials did not yet have a breakdown of which countries they were from.
"As far as immigration arrests, this is the largest at one site in 10 years," Berger said.
Berger also said no one from CVE’s corporate office was arrested during the operation. She would not elaborate as to the potential criminal charges and/or fines they could face as a result of the operation.
Mariela Ortega told FOX 4 she has documentation to work in the U.S. legally and was cleared by the ICE agents Wednesday. She was inside the business when hundreds of agents stormed in.
“People say, ‘Immigration! Immigration!’” she recalled. “And all coworkers started running.”
As news spread about the widespread operation, protesters and activists gathered outside CVE vowing to fight for those arrested.
“At this very moment, there is nothing they can do,” said Gloria Granados, the executive director of Light of Hope Immigration Law Center. “But that’s the reason we are here, so they can know that there is legal help for them.”
Family members who saw their loved ones in the morning don't know if they're ever coming back. Several community groups were on site helping them navigate their options.
A 24-hour toll-free detainee locator hotline was set up for family members to ask questions and check on the detention location and status of a loved one. The number for the hotline is 1-888-351-4024. It operates in English and Spanish.
CVE Technology is expected to remain open despite the ongoing investigation.