Activists gathered in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday to protest the arrest and possible deportation of 54-year-old Teresa Vidal-Jaime, who was taken into ICE custody after a drug raid at her apartment complex.
Vidal-Jaime’s husband, Hugo Rueda, was arrested on Monday for drug possession, the Los Angeles Times reports, after police seized 30 pounds of cocaine and $600,000 in cash.
The raid was conducted by border patrol agents and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, according to the newspaper, who first seized the drugs and cash from Vidal-Jaime’s husband’s car and then went to their apartment, where she gave them consent to search the premises.
Activists say it’s unclear on what grounds Vidal-Jaime was arrested by Customs and Border Protection agents, since she cooperated with law enforcement and, after being briefly detained at the scene by the Sheriff’s Department, was cleared of being involved in drug trafficking and released. The Sheriff’s Department told the L.A. Times their agents did not ask her about her immigration status.
Customs and Border Patrol told Univision that she was then arrested by CBP because she was in the country illegally, and defended their agents’ actions. Asked for further comment, they referred us to a statement in which the agency said Vidal-Jaime “is linked to a significant narcotics and illicit currency seizure at a Los Angeles residence,” despite having been released by the Sheriff’s Department. CBP said in their statement that she is undocumented.
“Vidal-Jaime was arrested and Border Patrol agents took custody of her upon discovering that she was living in the country illegally. Vidal-Jaime was processed for deportation proceedings,” the statement reads.
Her daughter, activist Claudia Rueda, said her mother should not have been arrested as part of the raid. She said Vidal-Jaime is from Mexico and has been living in the U.S. since 2001.
“Despite being told she would not be detained as long she cooperated, my mother was apprehended during an illegally conducted raid at my apartment,” Rueda said in a statement to the L.A. Times. “I know my mother is innocent, and both [the Sheriff’s Department and Border Patrol] know that, which is why they were supposed to let her go.”
Vidal-Jaime is currently being held in CBP custody in Chula Vista, the L.A. Times reports.
We’ve reached out to the L.A. Sheriff’s Department and ICE for additional comment and will update if we hear back.