DETROIT, Mi. – Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say they were surprised to learn a suspected gang member who was arrested during an immigration raid and subsequently deported to Honduras back in August is actually a third-generation Polish American.
“This obviously comes as a huge shock to all of us here at the Detroit field office,” ICE spokesperson Leon Benning told reporters during a press briefing on Thursday. Benning said the Department of Homeland Security is working “around the clock” to locate Brett Kowalski, a resident of Lansing, Michigan, who was last seen on August 6th when federal law enforcement officers handed him over to Honduran military police.
The twenty-nine-year-old Kowalski, who ICE officials described as being “very tan,” was picked up during an immigration sweep in East Lansing after agents mistook a clown tattoo on his forearm for MS-13 insignia. “Brett identifies as a Juggalo,” Brett’s younger brother, Peter, told CBS Detroit. Juggalos are members of a mostly non-violent clown gang which has been a staple of Michigan culture since the early nineties.
Peter Kowalski said his brother almost always leaves the house wearing black and white clown makeup – a clear indication of his affiliation with the Juggalos. However, Peter believes his brother wasn’t wearing clown makeup on the day he was forcibly detained by ICE. “I truly believe Brett would be here right now if he’d been wearing that god-awful face paint,” he told CBS Detroit as he wiped tears from his eyes. “I truly believe it.”
Authorities say it didn’t help that Brett Kowalski suffers from a speech impediment. “There was some confusion as to what language he was speaking,” an ICE official with firsthand knowledge of the case told Real News Right Now. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press, added that ICE was unaware of Kowalski’s condition at the time of his arrest and subsequent deportation to Honduras.