Nesquehoning police stopped a van containing five illegal aliens but were forced to let them go when the U.S. Department of Homeland Security refused to issue detainers for them.

Police Chief Sean Smith and Officer Carl Breiner stopped a Chevrolet Express van along SR209 on Sunday, Oct. 16, about 6:55 a.m. Smith had observed the van pull into the Turkey Hill earlier and saw three Hispanic males exit the vehicle and walk toward the mini-mart. Smith said their actions seem suspicious and he called Breiner, who was on duty, to come to the scene.

The officers later observed other individuals in the van acting suspiciously.

The van pulled out of the Turkey Hill and went south on 209. Breiner observed the van cross the center line three times and then he made a traffic stop.

The driver of the van was identified as Jose Loja, who produced a North Carolina license issued in 2003. It appeared to be fake to the officers. In speaking with Loja, who provided a birth date, a check was made and it came back for no record found.

Others in the van were identified as Raul Loja, who presented an Ecuador passport for the name Loja Loja Raul Clemente; Jose Diaz, who presented a Mexican ID card with the name Diaz Gambion Jose; Segunda Loja, who presented an Ecuador ID card with the name Loja Mayancela Segundu Manuel; and the finally Manuel Loja, who had no identification.

Through the course of the investigation Loja admitted that he did not have a valid license.

He also admitted that he and all the passengers with him were illegal aliens and did not have green cards.

Smith radioed the communications center to contact the ICE. An agent for the ICE called back and spoke with Smith. The chief told the agent that Loja was going to be charged with a summary offense of driving without a license but none of the others had committed any crime except that they were not legal.

The agent told Smith his office would not issue any detainers to hold the five because they were not facing any criminal charges, despite the fact, Smith said, all were in the country illegally.

The agent told Smith the ICE is now under Homeland Security and they have new rules concerning issuing detainers.

The agent took the information from Smith and advised him he would check into the matter in a week.

Smith was also told by Loja that he and his companions were in Nesquehoning to do a roof job and worked for American Construction of Stroudsburg.

While at the stop another van pulled up and the driver questioned why the stop was made. He also worked with the group and claimed he did not know they were not legal.

He was advised to take the five with him as the van had to stay since there was no valid driver available to take it.