Supervisors indicted in wake of raid at George's

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Federal grand jury charges illegal aliens were hired and harbored

By Lisa Schlichtman

A federal grand jury indicted eight supervisors who work at the George's poultry processing plant in Butterfield on charges related to harboring and hiring illegal aliens.

"No one is above the law, whether employers or employees," said John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. "These indictments demonstrate our commitment to aggressively prosecuting not only those who are in this country illegally but also those who knowingly hire or employ them."

A grand jury in Kansas City handed down indictments against Guadalupe Castro, 32, of Verona, Brad Vansandt, 48, and Dora Ruiz, 32, both of Monett, Jody Salinas, 29, and Billy Essley, 41, both of Cassville, Gary Creed, 31, of Washburn, and Hilda Gomez, 35, address unknown.

According to Wood, the seven defendants named in the indictments were supervisors, managers or human resource specialists involved in the hiring and employment process at George's. They were charged with harboring illegal aliens at George's for commercial advantage or private financial gain as well as aiding and abetting others to encourage illegal aliens to enter or reside in the United States.

In addition, Castro, Gomez, Salinas and Ruiz were each charged with aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. The indictments allege the four assisted others in using false identification to represent themselves as U.S. citizens.

Sinthia Valadez-Ramirez, 22, a Mexican national, has also been indicted. The indictment alleges that Valadez-Ramirez, while employed at George's in a secretarial position, assisted an illegal alien in using a Missouri non-drivers license and a Social Security card in another person's name in order to falsely represent herself as a U.S. citizen.

The recent indictments came five months after special agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided the Butterfield plant and arrested 136 illegal aliens from Mexico and Guatemala. As a result of the enforcement action, 28 of those arrested were charged criminally with immigration and identity theft violations.

"All employers in all industries and locations must comply with the nation's laws," said Elissa A. Brown, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "ICE, and our law enforcement partners, will continue to enforce immigration laws from all angles, including criminal charges, asset seizures, administrative arrests and deportations."

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard E. Monroe and Gary K. Milligan. They were investigated by ICE and the Social Security Administration's Office of Inspector General.

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