Homeland Security spotted at west Sumter residence

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U.S. Homeland Security personnel were seen at a residence in the west side of Sumter County last week, The Sumter Item has confirmed.

Though no arrests resulted that day, the newspaper received an email from a resident of the Wintergreen subdivision stating other neighbors posted on social media they saw a possible federal agent and law enforcement vehicles at the home on Oct. 26. The resident who wrote the Facebook posts described officers taking items from the home on Oleander Drive and detaining a woman when she arrived home that evening. The woman who sent the email said the Facebook posts were later taken down after law enforcement - she did not state which agency - requested the page administrator remove them.

Bryan Cox, southern region communications director with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), confirmed that ICE Homeland Security Investigations, the criminal investigative division of the federal agency, was at the residence on Oleander Drive on Oct. 26. He also confirmed no arrests were made.

"Beyond that, we cannot give any comment at this time," he wrote in the email.

Cox was asked if ICE Homeland Security Investigations can charge an individual without arresting that person. He neither confirmed nor denied if anyone has been charged but said any potential federal charges would be filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The Sumter Item reached out to the U.S. Attorney's Office District of South Carolina for information about potential charges against the homeowners who purchased the house on Oct. 4, according to Sumter County's property registry. The online registry is available to the public.

A response to that inquiry was not received by press time on Friday.

Cox did not confirm if the homeowners were the subject of the investigation and visit.

He also refused comment on the neighbors' report of seeing officers remove items from the residence, nor did he state the reason investigators went to the residence.

According to Homeland Security's website, ICE Homeland Security Investigations has "broad legal authority to enforce a diverse array of federal statutes" including: financial crimes, money laundering and bulk cash smuggling; commercial fraud and intellectual property theft; cyber crimes; human rights violations; human smuggling and trafficking; immigration, document and benefit fraud; narcotics and weapons smuggling/trafficking; transnational gang activity; export enforcement; and international art and antiquity theft.