A caller informed us this week of a strange, but not unbelievable sight: the U.S. Border Patrol had set up shop on Highway 104 just west of the Hood Canal Bridge.
I talked with Border Patrol Spokesman Michael Bermudez today, who confirmed that the patrol was conducting random checkpoints — and that there’ll be more of them to come across the Olympic Peninsula.
He said agents set up the checkpoint between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. While on the lookout for terrorists, human traffickers, drug smugglers and criminals on the lam, they detained seven undocumented illegal immigrants, he said.
One other person was taken to the Clallam County jail, as he was wanted by Port Angeles Police, Bermudez said.
But I had to ask Bermudez: what are the laws governing such random searches? I had on my mind Gov. Christine Gregoire’s failed efforts this year to set up DUI checkpoints.
According to federal law, agents can conduct searches within a “reasonable distance” from the border (Bermudez said this has been determined to be 100 miles) for possible illegal aliens. During such search, if other crimes are uncovered, or agents feel they have reasonable suspicion those being searched are committing a crime, they can also be arrested.
This story was covered by some Olympic Peninsula newspapers, including the Port Townsend Leader.