ICE detainees refuse virus tests, damage detention center

May 2, 2020 GMT

DARTMOUTH, Mass. (AP) — A group of about 10 federal immigration detainees who refused to be tested for the virus that causes COVID-19 caused extensive damage to the center in Dartmouth where they are being held, the sheriff’s office said in a Friday night news release.

The inmates involved in the incident at the C. Carlos Carreiro Immigration Detention Center reported multiple symptoms of COVID-19 and when told they had to be tested, they rushed officers.

A news release from the Bristol County sheriff said the detainees barricaded themselves inside the facility, ripped washing machines and pipes off the wall, broke windows and “’trashed the entire unit.” A special response team restrained the detainees, the department said.


No staff injuries were reported. One detainee was hospitalized with “symptoms of a panic attack,” another was hospitalized due to a pre-existing condition and a third “for a medical incident after being removed from the ICE wing.” All three are expected “to be fine,” the sheriff’s department said.

In a Saturday statement, Todd Lyons, the acting field office director of Enforcement and Removal Operations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, commended the sheriff’s office staff “who responded rapidly and professionally to de-escalate a volatile situation, limiting injuries and further damage to the facility and restoring order.”

But Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, the executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights in Boston which has filed suit on behalf of the detainees, said it appeared that correctional officers were attempting to move detainees from one part of the facility to the medical wing.

“’These individuals were justifiably concerned that doing so would dangerously expose them to risk of infection given the cross-contamination with many different individuals from all over the facility who come and go from the medical unit and with many shared surfaces,” he said in a statement.

Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said the detainees have been moved to single cells pending disciplinary action, COVID-19 testing and criminal charges.

Damage was estimated at $25,000.