U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested scores of illegal aliens and executed warrants for those that hired them in a multi-state operation Wednesday.
A series of criminal arrest warrants were executed for 17 individuals connected to an alleged criminal conspiracy to exploit illegal alien laborers for profit, fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in Nebraska and Minnesota. 13 of those named in the warrants have been arrested while the others remain free. ICE officials did not specify whether the remaining people listed on the indictment were let go or if they had not yet been located.
Search warrants were also served on agricultural businesses in Las Vegas, Nevada, Appleton, Minnesota and multiple locations throughout Nebraska for worksite hiring practices. While the two sets of warrants were being served, 133 illegal aliens were arrested for immigration violations. Some will be issued notices to appear in court, others will be detained pending immigration court proceedings. These individuals have been illegally residing and working in the United States, and may also have been exploited as part of this alleged criminal conspiracy.
Law enforcement believes the alleged conspirators, 17 individuals located in multiple states, colluded to create an illegal alien workforce in their respective businesses. By doing so, they defrauded the U.S. government and created an unfair advantage over their competition businesses. Additionally, authorities suspect the illegal aliens who were knowingly hired as part of this alleged conspiracy were exploited by the conspirators through force, coercion, or threat of arrest and/or deportation. Specifically, these illegal aliens were allegedly required to cash their paychecks at an illegal remittance business for a fee, have tax money deducted from their pay even though this money was never paid to the government, and were coerced to remain quiet about this criminal activity.
Search warrants were served at the following businesses and locations:
- Christensen Farms with numerous locations in Appleton, Minnesota; Sleepy Eye, Minnesota; and Atkinson, Nebraska;
- Elkhorn River Farms in O’Neill, Nebraska;
- O’Neill Ventures in O’Neill, Nebraska;
- La Herradura Restaurant in O’Neill, Nebraska;
- El Mercadito (grocery store) in O’Neill, Nebraska;
- A private ranch in O’Neill, Nebraska;
- La Herradura Restaurant in Stromsburg, Nebraska;
- GJW LLC with three locations in Ainsworth, Nebraska;
- J.E. Meurets Grain Company in Ainsworth, Nebraska;
- Herd Co Cattle Company in Bartlett, Nebraska; and
- Long Pine (farm) in Royal, Nebraska.
Several private residences were also included in the search and arrest warrants.
The enforcement action is part of a 15-month, ongoing HSI investigation based on evidence that these companies allegedly knowingly hired illegal aliens at their facilities, and that many of these aliens are using fraudulent identification belonging to U.S. citizens.
“The job magnet in the United States is primarily what draws illegal aliens across our borders,” said Special Agent in Charge Tracy J. Cormier, HSI St. Paul, which oversees Nebraska and Minnesota. “This HSI-led criminal investigation has shown that these targeted businesses were knowingly hiring illegal workers to unlawfully line their own pockets by cheating the workers, cheating the taxpayers, and cheating their business competitors.”
The following individuals were listed in the indictment. Those in bold are not yet in custody following the Aug. 8 criminal arrests.
- Juan Pablo Sanchez Delgado, aka “Pablo”
- Antonio De Jesus Castro, aka “Tony”
- Magdalena Castro Benitez, aka ”Nena”
- Alma Hernandez Moreno, aka “Aunt”
- Anayancy Castro Hernandez, aka “Anay”
- Fabian Castro, aka “Fabi”
- Suni Sarahi Sanchez Delgado
- Osvaldo Sanchez Delgado, aka “Lalo,” aka “Lalito”
- John Christopher Good
- Aracely Heredia Martinez, aka “Donita”
- Eric Beringer
- Christopher Thurlow
- Mayra P. Jimenez Castellon
- Asiyadeth Jimenez Castellon
- John Glidden
- Jaime Garcia Cota, aka “David”
- Lillian Ajin
The HSI-led enforcement action was coordinated with federal, state and local counterparts including the following agencies: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska; ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations; U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol, CBP Air and Marine Operations; and the following Nebraska law enforcement agencies: Holt County Sheriff’s Office, O’Neill Police Department and Nebraska State Patrol.
Detained aliens will be held in facilities in Nebraska and Minnesota while awaiting removal proceedings.
HSI is the federal law enforcement agency responsible for upholding the laws established by the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which requires employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of individuals they hire. These laws help protect jobs for U.S. citizens and other lawful residents, eliminate unfair competitive advantages for companies that unlawfully hire an illegal workforce, and strengthen public safety and national security.
As in this case, unauthorized workers often use stolen identities of legal U.S. workers, which can profoundly damage for years the identity-theft victim’s credit, medical records and other aspects of their everyday life.
In addition to conducting investigations, HSI also uses I-9 audits to create a culture of compliance among employers. In July, ICE announced a two-phase operation under this effort.
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