Top immigration official arrested in traffic incident

A deputy chief immigration officer, the Immigration Department’s head of enforcement, was taken into police custody early Saturday in connection with a motor vehicle accident.

The officer, identified as Garfield ‘Gary’ Wong, 46, was taken to Bodden Town Police Station and given police bail to return on Jan. 14, 2014.

Mr. Wong has not been charged with any offense in the incident. He was contacted by the Caymanian Compass for comment Monday, but declined to say anything on the record.

According to a statement on the collision from RCIPS Chief Inspector Angelique Howell: “There was a motor vehicle accident on Shamrock Road, Lower Valley, Saturday 12.57 a.m. A vehicle was pushed into the bush with major damages.”

Ms Howell later clarified that two vehicles were involved in the incident, one vehicle, a truck, struck the other vehicle and knocked it off the road.

“There were minor injuries in the accident. One person was arrested [on suspicion of] DUI and leaving the scene of an accident,” she said.

Chief Inspector Howell did not state the vicinity of where the arrest occurred Saturday morning.

Acting chief officer for the government Ministry of Home Affairs, Wesley Howell, confirmed that the ministry – which has oversight responsibility for the Immigration Department – was aware of the situation involving the deputy chief immigration officer.

“There was an incident involving DUI with Mr. Wong,” Mr. Howell said. “We would treat it as any other matter involving a ministry staff member.”

Mr. Howell said civil service personnel regulations would only require a civil servant to be placed on leave status if they were charged with a criminal offense. DUI is considered a traffic offense, not criminal, and in any case Mr. Wong hasn’t been charged with anything, Mr. Howell said.

“He’s still at work,” Mr. Howell said.

Mr. Wong, a career Cayman Islands immigration officer, took the deputy chief’s role on Oct. 1, 2009. During his tenure, collection of fines for immigration-related offenses have increased significantly.

“One of my first priorities will be to focus on removing those persons who have no right to be here including work permit holders with no work,” Mr. Wong said upon taking the job.

One of Mr. Wong’s immigration career highlights was his work with the enforcement unit during the Cuban refugee crisis on Grand Cayman in the early 1990s. His efforts earned him the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I know this is a very ticklish topic to write about, however; and although my comments may not go down well with some, I still feel obligated to say in few words. This can happen, and has happened to many.
    I cannot give Mr. Wong right for his actions, but like Jesus said Who among you that have not sinned cast the first stone. He is wrong, but lets not nail him to a cross.
    Just a few nights ago a prison officer, too drunk to stand up, bounced a woman with his car while she was walking on the side of the road along in Savannah area. The woman did not press charges. But she could have been killed. So to close my comments I will say I do hope everyone will choose not to get behind a car wheel when they have had too much to drink, and on the other hand it could have happened to the best of us.

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