doj.gif

NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


OCTOBER 17, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


GRAND JURY INDICTS SEVEN EMPLOYEES FROM

GEORGE’S CHICKEN PROCESSING PLANT


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that seven individuals who were involved in hiring or supervising employees at George’s Processing, Inc., in Butterfield, Mo., have been indicted by a federal grand jury, in separate but related cases, on charges related to harboring and hiring illegal aliens.


             Guadalupe Castro, 32, of Verona, Mo., Brad Vansandt, 48, and Dora Ruiz, 32, both of Monett, Mo., Jody Salinas, 29, and Billy Essley, 41, both of Cassville, Mo., Gary Creed, 31, of Washburn, Mo., and Hilda Gomez, 35, address unknown, were charged in separate indictments that were returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007. Those indictments were unsealed and made public today upon the arrests of all the defendants.


              “No one is above the law, whether employers or employees,” Wood said. “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.


             The seven charged defendants were supervisors, managers, human resource specialists, or otherwise involved in the hiring and employment process at George’s Processing. This series of indictments is part of the active and ongoing investigation arising from a work site enforcement conducted at George’s Processing on Tuesday, May 22, 2007. Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, executing a federal search warrant, arrested 136 illegal aliens from Mexico and Guatemala on administrative immigration charges. Agents from U.S. Marshals Service assisted with the arrests. As a result of that enforcement action, 28 of those employees were also charged criminally with immigration and identity theft violations.


             Wood emphasized that “this is an active and ongoing investigation. We will prosecute everyone we find in this investigation who has committed a provable crime.”



             "These indictments demonstrate ICE's aggressive, ongoing pursuit of employers who egregiously violate the law," said Elissa A. Brown, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "All employers in all industries and locations must comply with the nation's laws. ICE, and our law enforcement partners, will continue to enforce immigration laws from all angles, including criminal charges, asset seizures, administrative arrests and deportations." Brown heads a six-state area which includes: Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas and Wisconsin.


             These seven defendants were each charged with harboring illegal aliens at George’s Processing for commercial advantage or private financial gain, as well 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 that they assisted others to use a means of identification of another person – including Social Security cards – in order to falsely represent themselves as U.S. citizens.


             Wood cautioned that the charges contained in these indictments are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.


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


             In this calendar year, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri has pursued several unrelated cases in which individuals or companies have been charged for their involvement in the hiring and employment of illegal aliens. Recent developments in these cases include:


             * Four Kansas City area roofing companies and the two individuals who owned them were recently indicted for harboring illegal alien workers;


             * One individual recently pleaded guilty to harboring and hiring illegal aliens to work at his siding business in the Springfield area;


             * One individual was charged with moving13 illegal aliens who were working for him from state to state to distribute telephone books;


             * One individual was recently charged with bringing approximately 12 illegal aliens into the U.S. and arranging for their employment at a roofing company in southwest Missouri;


             * Two defendants pleaded guilty to knowingly hiring and harboring six illegal aliens to work at a restaurant in Springfield;


             * Two individuals will soon go to trial for allegedly organizing a visa fraud scheme to bring illegal aliens into the U.S. to perform manual labor.


            Wood also cautioned that the charges contained in these unrelated cases are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt until the defendants have plead guilty or been found guilty. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.


****************

This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html