CALEXICO — A report of a bomb threat prompted the temporary lockdown of the Imperial Regional Detention Facility east of Calexico about 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, the county Sheriff’s Office reported.
Both Sheriff’s Office and the county Fire Department’s bomb squad personnel responded to the scene and cleared the facility to perform a sweep for suspicious items.
Ultimately, nothing suspicious was found at the facility located at 1572 Gateway Road, said sheriff’s Chief Deputy Robert Benavidez in an email Thursday, Jan. 14.
A detainee at the facility reportedly contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which houses individuals accused of immigration violations at the facility, to report that they were told via an outside phone call of a bomb inside the detention center, Benavidez stated.
ICE then notified Management & Training Corp. (MTC) personnel of the bomb threat, prompting MTC to contact local authorities, according to the ICSO call logs.
MTC is the private firm that owns the detention center and contracts its facility and staff to the federal government.
“The incident and origin of phone call is under investigation,” Benavidez said. “No evacuation was necessary as the facility was put on lockdown and no staff were able to leave.”
A watch commander at the facility reportedly told responding agencies just prior to the lockdown that a bomb was supposed to go off at 3 p.m., according to scanner traffic around the time of the lockdown. Highway 98 near the detention center, as well as the road leading to the center, were both shut down before the perimeter search, stated additional scanner chatter.
ICE’s response to the incident was consistent with the agency’s national detention standards, a spokesperson said. Once the facility was cleared by local authorities, normal operations were able to resume.
“ICE is committed to ensuring operations at all immigration detention centers are safe and secure for detainees in ICE custody,” stated ICE spokesperson Lauren Mack in a Jan. 14 email.