Skip to comments.Undercover Operation Cracked Illegal Alien Network
Posted on 01/05/2008 6:48:59 PM PST by SwinneySwitch
DALLAS (AP) - For years, federal agents had received tips alleging undocumented immigrants were working at plants owned by the Pilgrim's Pride Corp., the nation's largest chicken producer.
This spring, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Dallas acted on leads that pointed toward two of the company's seven East Texas plants.
Undercover agents posing as illegal immigrants infiltrated an alleged network of job-seekers who paid hundreds of dollars for fraudulent identification while those responsible for hiring them looked the other way.
By the time the investigation wrapped up in December, agents had arrested 24 people, including:
- A Pilgrim's Pride employee accused of dealing identification documents;
- A human resources employee at the company's Mount Pleasant facility;
- Two other men agents say were part of the scheme to get identity documents for illegal immigrants.
Twenty other workers at Pilgrim's Pride plants in Mt. Pleasant and Pittsburg, Texas, were accused of using social security numbers not issued to them.
The matter is expected to go to a federal grand jury later in January. But newly unsealed court documents laying out the government's case offer a rare glimpse into an allegedly complicit circle of illegal workers, document dealers and trusted employees that made the scheme work.
It's the latest effort by the government to pursue illegal immigrant workers and the employers who hire them by focusing on fraudulent identity documents and social security numbers. ICE agents arrested more than 1,200 workers at Swift & Co. meatpacking plants nationwide in 2006 as part of a similar investigation.
In the Pilgrim's case, an affidavit by ICE Special Agent George Ramirez revealed the agency has received more than 75 calls since 2005 about illegal immigrant workers at the company's plants. A review found 14 of the company's human resources employees were suspected of knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants, Ramirez stated.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Jackson in Tyler said he couldn't comment on whether the government is investigating Pilgrim's Pride.
But Ray Atkinson, a spokesman for the Pittsburg-based company said Pilgrim's Pride is not facing charges and is cooperating fully in the federal investigation. The company has about 55,000 employees and operates dozens of facilities mostly across the South, in Mexico and Puerto Rico.
"Our company is very concerned about any allegations of this type," Atkinson said.
In a statement, Pilgrim's added that its employees are trained to spot fraudulent documents, verify social security numbers and make sure applicants are eligible to work in the U.S. The company noted the system isn't foolproof, saying even federal officials conceded a database check can't detect whether valid numbers or documents have been stolen.
"The HR employee who was taken into custody has been terminated from employment," Atkinson said in a statement to The Associated Press. "We are looking further into the matter."
Undercover ICE agents penetrated the Pilgrim's ring by claiming to be undocumented workers eager to purchase the papers needed to land "good" jobs at the chicken plants. Once hired, some agents continued the ruse by working shifts in the plant, doing surveillance and monitoring conversations.
Among the accused are alleged "document vendors" Marcos Garcia and Daniel "Chilango" Totosaus-Rodriguez. According to the court records, the pair sold doctored documents to a confidential informant to get a job at Pilgrim's Mount Pleasant site. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison for transferring false identification.
The two men allegedly guaranteed their wares, promising to replace the documents at no extra charge if Pilgrim's discovered a social security number to be invalid. They also told agents that employees in Pilgrim's human resources office wouldn't question applicants returning with papers bearing a new name because "everyone knows what's going on."
Garcia allegedly met the informant in April outside a coin-operated laundry and offered help him get a job at Pilgrim's for $800, including $600 for the necessary documents and a $200 "finder's fee" for himself. Days later, the price went up to $900. He claimed to have connections to a foreman in the plant.
Later, the informant and Garcia met with Totosaus-Rodriguez, who allegedly assured them the documents would be "good," and that he had previously obtained identification from the same source.
Before the informant received the false documents, he was introduced to Pilgrim's Pride human resources employee Reyna Villarreal to discuss a "good" job within the company.
Totosaus-Rodriguez allegedly hinted after the meeting that the informant may need to pay Villarreal $500 to seal the deal, saying: "with money, everything is possible."
During a later meeting at Pilgrim's, the informant gave his documents to Villarreal and told her he'd purchased them from Garcia. Villarreal entered the social security number into a computer system and then said the "documents look good to me," according to court records.
Villarreal, who also goes by Reyna Aleman, was arrested on a complaint of making a false statement. Authorities allege she claimed to be a U.S. citizen on a form when at the time she wasn't. Her attorney was not immediately available for comment.
Yet another Pilgrim's employee, Jose Luis Garcia, allegedly collected photos of the informant and relayed the cash paid for the identity documents. Agents later determined the man had been previously deported and was again living illegally in the U.S. He was charged with re-entering the United States after being denied admission and faces up to two years in prison.
Attorneys for Marcos Garcia, Jose Luis Garcia and Totosaus-Rodriguez didn't immediately return calls for comment.
The others arrested, all Pilgrim's employees, are accused of fraudulently using identification documents, including social security numbers. Each faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
It appears that those who purchased new identities did so for the sole purpose of getting jobs. The investigation found no efforts to obtain credit or loans using the names, said Jackson, the prosecutor.
But the scheme still caused hardships for some whose identities were allegedly stolen; most were people with Spanish surnames.
One of the true holders of a social security number used to land a job at Pilgrim's Pride received a notice from the Internal Revenue Service asking for back taxes on wages he purportedly earned. And an Illinois nursing home resident nearly lost his disability benefits because it appeared he was employed, according to court documents.
"Identity theft cases like these show the link between illegal immigration and criminal activity that affects people like you and me," said John Chakwin Jr., special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Dallas. "Victims of identity theft are robbed of their very financial stability, and it can take years to recover from this crime's devastating effects."
Pilgrim’s Pride Ping!
If you want on, or off this S. Texas/Mexico ping list, please FReepMail me.
I’ve been by those plants...not at all surprised to hear this.
Sounds like a RICO prosecution is needed for the company management.
OMG, Can they be any dumber, I can find 100 places in Texas. All you have to do is try. Confidence is LOW in their fixing this issue. It is barely a start.
KFC, Wendy’s and the Great Wall of Mart are their primary customers...........guess I will eat or shop elsewhere.
QUISLING: a synonym for traitor, someone who collaborates with the invaders of his country.
Yes, everyone all the way up the corporate ladder of Pilgrim's and Tyson's Foods. I wish they would come to Northwest Arkansas and clean house at some of these chicken plants that are nothing more than illegal alien magnets. Better yet, raise the fines so high that the chicken producers have to move to Mexico where they can find all the cheap labor they want.
They should be having these raids on a daily basis. Thanks to Huckabee the illegals know that Arkansas is soft on enforcement so they are flocking here to chop chickens. Thanks Huckster!
I know the Quisling reference very well from WW2. Sadly, many, if not most, Americans missed it and are “not clear on the concept”.....
Fight the good fight. There is absolutely ZERO substitute for freedom under God. Freedom to speak. Freedom to Worship, freedom, period.
I really like this concept. I know it is shopworn and out of vogue with some, must I will reiterate it regardless, as it is definitely worth repeating:
“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Now, here is a good read for all who are alive on the entire planet Earth [apart from JOHN 3:16 in the NT, KJV or NIV], article from Wiki entitled:
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
Life is good. Liberty is good. The pursuit of happieness is good. Good for ALL mankind. Now, if one has an actual functioning brain that uses logic, reason and common sense, who could possibly be againt these principles??
“Just sayin’” .....
"Hey chief, we're not supposed to think about doing anything until we get a hundred calls on the same company. What's the big rush this time?"
Haven’t bought Pilgrim’s Pride or Tyson in years.
Tyson is importing Muslim refugees to Emporia Kansas for the slaughter house there and letting the Poor taxpayers in the small town pick up the bill for their Hospital, school and social services
Are they simultaneously arranging raids of competitors while getting immunity themselves (like [ahem...allegedly] occurred in Virginia)?
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