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Terry Cowgill
ICE agents descended on Main Street in front of the Fuel coffee shop in Great Barrington early Tuesday morning and arrested an immigrant from Albania . He had been working as a chef at Patisserie Lenox, a few doors down from Fuel. His fate is unknown.

In ‘frightening’ display, ICE agents arrest immigrant worker on Main Street

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By Tuesday, Jan 8, 2019 News 36

Great Barrington — The long arm of the federal government found its way into downtown Great Barrington Tuesday morning as officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took a local worker into custody in front of the popular Fuel Coffee Shop on Main Street.

Will Curletti, owner of Fuel Coffee Shop in Great Barrington. Photo: Nicholas Dayal

The incident happened some time between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. when there were only eight or nine people in the shop, said Will Curletti, who owns the popular coffee shop with his wife, Robin.

Curletti said he saw two officers slap handcuffs on “Alex,” who works as a chef at Patisserie Lenox. Curletti surmised that Alex was walking south on Main Street to work when the agents stopped him.

Curlietti saw a pair of black SUVs and two officers—one plain-clothed woman and a man wearing an ICE vest. The man handcuffed Alex, put him into a SUV and took him away. The event was over within a couple of minutes.

“It was the first time I’ve seen ICE in Berkshire County,” Curletti said. “And I’ve seen all sorts of weird stuff—people running from the cops, you name it.”

Mickey Friedman, a regular at Fuel and a writer who is an Edge contributor, was sitting in the back of the coffee shop and was alerted to the situation by Curletti.

Main Street can be seen in the reflection of the streetside window of Patisserie Lenox. Photo: Terry Cowgill

“By time I got to the front, they were basically putting him into the back of the car,” Friedman said. “It was kind of frightening.”

Friedman said he saw three vehicles, including a sedan. One vehicle had Connecticut plates and another had New York plates.

At Patisserie Lenox, owner Jean Yves Bougouin said that, when Alex did not show up for to work, he sent an employee to his apartment to check on him and whoever was in his apartment “said he was arrested by immigration.”

Bougouin explained that Alex had another legal problem unrelated to immigration and he thought initially that his detention was related to that.

Yulia and Jean Yves Bougouin of Patisserie Lenox in Great Barrington. Photo courtesy Patisserie Lenox

Bougouin did not know Alex’s last name but said his wife, Yulia, did. She was not available, however, when The Edge visited the cafe. When he was hired about two years ago, Alex did present a Social Security card, so his ability to work in the U.S. appeared to be fine, Bougouin explained.

Bougouin declined to specify Alex’s other unrelated legal problems. Bougouin guesses that “the other problem is probably related to [the ICE] arrest” and the aggrieved party might have reported Alex to federal authorities. Alex is of Greek ancestry but was living in Albania before he came to the U.S. 

Bougouin said he foresaw Alex’s legal problems and anticipated they might cause him to miss work or force him to resign, so, two months ago, Bougouin hired an extra chef.

“We were prepared,” Bougouin said. “It was a shame. He was a good guy and a good chef.”

Police Chief William Walsh explaining his department’s immigration policies at Great Barrington’s 2017 annual town meeting. Photo: David Scribner

Asked if Great Barrington authorities had assisted ICE in any way, police Chief Bill Walsh provided The Edge with a log entry of the incident. The federal Department of Homeland Security had requested assistance from the Great Barrington Police Department in the form of a uniformed officer to escort them to Alex’s residence to pick up his medication.

“It was kind of disturbing for everyone in here,” Curletti said of the customers and employees in his coffee shop. “You know, the government is shut down and we’re still pulling people off the street. You hate to see that happen.”

Shortly after the election of Donald Trump, there were rumors on social media of immigration roundups in Berkshire County. When The Edge attempted to contact ICE for confirmation of this recent incident, we received the following message from spokesperson Leticia Zamarripa:

“All ICE public affairs officers are out of the office for the duration of the government shutdown. We are unable to respond to media queries during this period because we are prohibited by law from working. If you still require a response, please resubmit your query upon the government re-opening.”

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to reflect the correct name of Jean Yves Bougouin’s wife.

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36 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Danny says:

    This is so stupid! Simple fix. Amnesty. Boom NO MORE ILLEGALS. Then maybe everyone will shut up about illegal immigrants coming into their hometowns taking american jobs and all the other crap people spout. A job is a job. Work it to make money. Not because you’re over qualified and think you deserve better. Money is money. Get to work people!

  2. barbara white says:

    Not knowing Alex’s particular story, perhaps he didn’t have the luxury, whether because of financial, safety or other reasons, of waiting 10 years for legal entry.

    1. Jim Balfanz says:

      The immigration problem could be so greatly lessened if the immigration laws were updated by increasing the quotas for citizens from countries who “like” the US, and decreasing them from those that don’t. Immigration laws are there to supposedly protect our country and its’ legal citizens. Come here illegally and suffer the consequences.

  3. Jerry says:

    Imagine how much worse Great Barrington’s illegal immigration problem would be without the wall around Searles Castle. Good luck getting in there without papers or a last name.

    1. DB says:

      Yeah walls are the BEST
      and they always work ?

      1. Brian Tobin says:

        Yes, ask the East Germans. They’ll tell you just how effective a barrier the Berlin Wall was for 28 years. Walls don’t just keep people out, they can keep them in, too.

      1. Jerry says:

        I wasn’t

  4. Reinout van Wagtendonk says:

    These comments… So not your usual Edge responses. Trump’s troll army? Russians? If they do come from brand new accounts perhaps a follow-up by the Edge on these unlikely comments might be an idea

  5. Jim Balfanz says:

    Based on the author’s writing and comments of the people who witnessed the arrest, why should it have been “frightening?” An illegal was calmly arrested and taken off the streets. How about thanking the officers involved for doing their job in a professional manner? What part of illegal do people not understand?

    1. Shawn says:

      I guess I’m an ‘illegal’ also- yesterday I drove 62 in a 55.

  6. Alex says:

    First. We don’t know what the issues are so pre supposing illegal status is un American.
    Second. Abolish I.C.E.

  7. Michael says:

    “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to be free”

    1. Jeff Keenan says:

      Cross at a border checkpoint get bedded we need to know who is in this country


    I agree with Reinout. The lack of empathy or even factual awareness is pretty unusual in the Berkshires. I don’t know the specifics of Alex’s case but, statistically, immigrants, legal and undocumented commit fewer crimes than native born Americans. They work, start businesses, pay taxes and enrich our community as immigrants always have.
    The spectacle of agents of the state pulling someone off the street on his way to work doesn’t feel like the America I know.

    1. Joan Embree says:

      my thoughts exactly, Marc!

    2. David Leavitt says:

      We have a lot of legal citizens in this country that have to be helped first. I know a lot who also work hard and get bypassed. Interesting how people exploiting and supporting illegal low wage slave help are not called racist.

      1. Shawn says:

        David- sounds like you support helping legal citizens. Can you tell me three ways you support helping them? …

  9. Joan Embree says:

    The Muppets singing Michael Franti’s lyrics:

    We are all earthlings
    Spinning around together
    On a planet of the sun
    From the cities to the mountains and the deserts and the deep blue sea
    To the places and prisons and the paradises that I see
    Some of us have feathers
    Some of us have fins
    Some of us are furry
    And some of us have skins
    We swim and hop and slither
    And leap and soar and run
    And we all live together
    On a planet of the sun

  10. Marilyn says:

    I am shocked and saddened by the comments re:this article. Does anyone know if Alex was here illegally? Has anyone seen his immigration papers? Is this Nazi Germany? The hate and venom expressed are truly awful and very disturbing. Have any of the respondents checked the immigration papers of their family members? Do you know if your grandparents came here legally? I assume all of those writers never cheated on their income tax, never did anything illegal., never did anything wrong. People in glass houses should not throw stones. Yes, we certainly need to improve our immigration laws but I think we also need to show a little more humanity and understanding.

    1. Carl Stewart says:

      Thank you, Marilyn, for writing so eloquently and clearly what I assume most people believe. A small consolation…if that is the correct word…is something I came to realize many years ago; hate is much more damaging to the person who harbors it than to the object of the hate. We are very clearly in a dangerous period in this country’s history. Let’s hope that it passes quickly as a blip on the radar screen and that we can devote our best efforts to repairing the untold damage.

      1. Jim Balfanz says:

        How does one go about repairing the damage that Illegal immigrants have perpetrated upon legal citizens and our entire system of providing help for our needy citizens? How do the loved ones of those legal citizens, raped, murdered or brutally assaulted repair their damage? Where do we go to recapture over $116 BILLION paid for various illegals through our welfare system? Couldn’t that $$$ go towards providing help for our legal citizens who have worked within the system, and/or are TRULY needy and need assistance to sustain themselves?

        Just perhaps the way to have this “blip on the radar screen” pass quickly, is to return to the idea that we are a Nation of Laws – one set for all to follow. It can’t happen if some in our society refuse to accept that simple fact.

        Some reading the opinions herein are upset with what they perceive to be injustices to an individual – illegally here, being quietly arrested on the street in a manner that prevented any further incidences – done professionally and legally, while others recognize that our laws need to be respected and followed.

        It is sad to read the reasoning behind supporting illegal activity.

    2. Jeff Keenan says:

      Cross at a border checkpoint get vedded we need to know who is in this country

  11. AJ says:

    Why is it so difficult to see Alex as a human being trying to live as best he could? How has our humanity been so eroded?

    1. Pablo says:

      How is it so hard to see he broke the law? If you don’t like the laws change them.

  12. Laura C says:

    How can an employer not know his employee’s last name if he worked for him for two years? I think that the few who witnessed this should go to counseling to get over this “frightening ordeal”.

  13. Jonathan Hankin says:

    I dunno but the name of that spokesperson for ICE, Leticia Zamarripa, seems highly suspect. Just sayin’…

  14. Chris Thomas says:

    Noticed there are quite a few pro Ice comments that were deleted between yesterday and today. Classified as “hate speech” by Edge editors? Just wondering…

  15. Elie says:

    Among all the heartless comments, we have the recent one from Pablo. Pablo, even if you were part of the US Congress (and I am thankful that you are not), you would experience how difficult it is to change the law. The Democratic congresspersons have been attempting to make kinder and fairer immigration laws , and have not yet been successful.

    1. Pablo says:

      So your solution is if you don’t agree with a law just don’t enforce it? Wow just imagine what the country would be like. Of course it is the Democratic Congress that is making all kinder and fairer changes according to you. It takes two to compromise and I don’t see your fellow Dems doing anything. Maybe you should leave the liberal bubble of Massachusetts and actually see the real world. Open borders are working wonders in Europe. I am sure this will get deleted as it goes against the editors agenda.

      1. Ann says:

        I can’t speak to the specificities of this case – none of us can – but it’s worth noting that America’s best impulses have often come to fruition through the flauting of laws, and that flauting has often started in Massachusetts:

        1) American Revolution got kicked off because Boston merchants thought a legally imposed series of taxes was unfair and they destroyed private property (tea) to make a point.

        2) Shay’s Rebellion shut down the court system by armed rebellion by farmers, leading to paper money and a law abolishing debtors prison.

        3) Massachusetts residents actively undermined the Fugitive Slave law (see the trial of Anthony Burns, see Thomas Wentworth Higginson). Many were also incredibly rude about Slave owners (see Charles Sumner – civility is overrated).

        4) Lesbians flocked to the safe haven of Northampton for years before gay marriage was legal.

        5) Amherst hosted Extravaganja for years before pot became legal, which legalization has lead to fewer nuisance arrests and a thriving business.

        Also, fwiw, the term “vetted” – you know, what we do to animals – is disgusting to apply to humans and only entered American English about 15 years ago from the British who are lovely but do have something of a class problem.

      2. Pablo says:

        Ann – you are delusional to compare any of the below to today’s issues. It is very interesting that the politically correct society of today is defending an accused sexual assault perp. How about posting a thanks to ICE for removing an accused sexual predator from society.

      3. Linda Moore says:

        O really?guess you watch fox fake news.dems would not put little kids in cages ALONE.to sleep on floors.who keeps shooting down 5 bills now given to McConnell,not dems.MR.NOT DEMS.

  16. Jim Balfanz says:

    Direct quote from the Eagle…… ALBANIAN ARRESTED: The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement took an Albanian pastry chef into custody; it appears that a sex assault charge under an alias might have prompted the arrest.

    I fully understand, “innocent until proven guilty.” Stay tuned pony soldiers…

  17. Shane Banta says:

    Amnesty ruins our economy and our safety. People have not been properly vetted INDIVIDUALLY!
    We have laws, come legally. Anything else is emotional and ridiculous! Play stupid games win stupid prizes. Move to Venezuela, or France.

  18. Charles Flynn says:

    Chris Thomas, I noticed also that a number or pro ICE comments were removed.
    More importantly, Jim Belfanz’s comments have been most applicable and most factual. I only wish to add that ICE was acting properly in conducting a professional and properly executed arrest based upon probable cause in accordance with the law. If, in fact, the Albanian Pastry Chef, is proven to be an illegal alien, then he will be dealt with accordingly not based upon feelings, but in accordance with the laws of the United States. What ICE demonstrated for all is WE ARE A NATION OF LAWS. That is encouraging, not frightening.

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