EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Armed with court orders, a multi-agency violent crime and gang task force raided multiple residences in El Paso on Friday.
The task force included FBI agents from El Paso and Albuquerque, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Drug Enforcement Administration, a U.S. Border Patrol tactical unit, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations and members of the El Paso County Constables Precinct 1.
There was no immediate information on whether anyone was arrested, or if any items were seized. “As this is an ongoing FBI El Paso investigation, no further information can be given at this time,” the FBI said in a statement.
Some Central El Paso residents told KTSM the agents and officers set off flashbang grenades in their home on the 3500 block of La Luz, broke windows, knocked down a chain-link fence and placed them in handcuffs Friday morning. The agents released them after verifying their identities and then left.
The tenant, a woman who identified herself only as Catalina and described herself as a caretaker and health services provider, believes the officers raided the wrong house. She was not there at the time of the raid.
“I returned and …. I provide for two disabled people. (They were) shocked, crying, yelling, saying they got hit with a grenade. They said (law enforcement) were looking for somebody we don’t know,” Catalina said. “They had the wrong address. I’m 3529, they were looking for 3531. The FBI and everything raided my house, broke my windows and I don’t know why.”
Catalina showed KTSM the stains left by the grenades, a portion of collapsed ceiling and other damage to the home.
“They had a gun on Rebecca’s forehead with a laser,” Catalina said. “A 9-months pregnant woman, she got hit too by the (robot drone) … all of them, even the pregnant girl, were handcuffed except for Rebecca.”
Rebecca is a disabled woman that Catalina says she cares for.
“We were still asleep, and we heard, ‘FBI, FBI, search warrant.’ It was very scary,” Rebecca said. “I was barely waking up. I guess they were looking for some guy and that’s when we heard the bomb thing or whatever and it scared me. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I should stay in or run. They told me to go out with my hands in the air.”
Alize is the pregnant woman staying at the home. “They got the wrong house … We didn’t do nothing, the property was next door,” she said. “They obviously can see that I was pregnant, especially when I walked out and they had the light shine on me. That’s all I have to say.”
KTSM reached out to some agencies involved in the raid to verify the residents’ claim.
Law enforcement officials said they cannot discuss cases that may involve sealed indictments, active warrants or ongoing investigations. One official, however, said the task force did its “due diligence” and was authorized by the courts to effect enforcement actions in all the places they visited on Friday.
Not all law enforcement partners involved in the broader operation were present at the La Luz address. KTSM reached out to various agencies to see who was there and is awaiting a response.