OCEAN CITY – Six illegal aliens were taken into custody last week after an early morning raid at two restaurants and a private residence in West Ocean City.
Armed with three federal search warrants, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, with the assistance of local law enforcement agencies, raided the Mikayo Sushi and Seafood Buffet on Route 50 and the Panda Buffet in the White Marlin Mall, both in West Ocean City, early last Thursday morning. Following the raids, the restaurants were chained shut and temporary closing signs were posted.
ICE officials also raided a private residence on Godspeed Ave. in the nearby Oyster Harbor community, which was covered by one of the federal search warrants. The Oyster Harbor residence is owned by Zhu Bo Hao, who is believed to be the owner of the two restaurants raided on Thursday.
Six arrests were made during the operation including individuals from Mexico and the People’s Republic of China. ICE spokeswoman Ernestine Fobbs this week confirmed the raids and the arrests, but could not say much about the charges against the defendants other than they involved illegal immigration infractions.
Fobbs said the six people were transported to the ICE regional office in Baltimore for processing and remain in custody. A process has been initiated to make arrangements for their removal from the U.S.
“They remain in custody pending removal proceedings,” said Fobbs. “It is likely they will be deported, but there is a process, steps we must follow, before that can happen.”
That process included determining first if they are illegal aliens and the immigration infractions against them are valid. Once that is established, ICE officials will follow a protocol including the preparation of travel documents, making arrangements with their host countries to accept them and other steps, according to Fobbs.
“It is only a formality,” she said. “There are steps we have to take in the process. In most cases, they are amenable to going back and we are happy to accommodate them.”
The ICE raids in West Ocean City last Thursday was the second operation by federal immigration officials carried out in Worcester County in the span of a week. Two weeks ago, federal law enforcement officials with ICE and the FBI raided two businesses and a residence in Snow Hill as part of a sting operation targeting 45 suspects nationwide and around the world including 24 linked to Snow Hill, Ocean City and other spots on the shore.
To read all the week’s news, see The Dispatch tomorrow.