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June 10, 2009


(HOUSTON) – The owner and two managers of Action Rags USA LLC., a company involved in recycling discarded clothing for resale in developing countries, have been convicted and sentenced for conspiring to harbor illegal aliens, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today.  

In a hearing today, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison accepted the guilty pleas of Mubarik “Baco” Kahlon, 45, and Cirilia “Cici” Baron, 39, to the federal felony charge. The court sentenced Baron, a manager at Action Rags who had day-to-day involvement with the management of the business, to 11 months in prison or time served. Kahlon, the owner of Action Rags, was sentenced to two years probation and fined $6,000. A second manager, Mayra Herrera-Gutierrez, 32, who pleaded guilty in August 2008 to conspiring to encourage illegal aliens to reside within the United States, was also sentenced today to 11 months in prison or time served. 

In March 2003, Kahlon established Action Rags, which engaged in the business of recycling discarded clothing for resale in developing countries, including India, Pakistan and nations in Africa and South America. Thrift stores and relief agencies such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army regularly receive donations of excess clothing they cannot sell. Action Rags purchases such clothing from these agencies and sorts, packages, recycles and exports it for sale. Action Rags employed workers in its warehouse at 1225 Port Houston Street in Houston who sorted, selected, packaged and loaded the clothing for shipping. 

In May 2007, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) received a tip and began investigating whether illegal undocumented workers were being hired at Action Rags. That investigation proved undocumented workers had been hired at Action Rags. Generally, these undocumented workers provided false employment verification documents obtained at flea markets or other locations to the managers at Action Rags who knew the documents were falsified.

On June 25, 2008, ICE agents executed a federal search warrant at the administrative offices and warehouse areas of Action Rags. As a result of that law enforcement action, computer forensic information and employment related documents were seized. Agents also discovered and arrested 166 undocumented aliens, including 136 United Mexican States nationals, 12 Honduran nationals, 10 Guatemalan nationals and eight nationals of El Salvador. Subsequent to the execution of the search warrant, the undocumented aliens were interviewed concerning their employment at Action Rags and, as a result, charges were brought against Kahlon, Baron and Gutierrez. Gutierrez and Baron are themselves unauthorized aliens and subject to deportation upon their release. 

This case was investigated by the ICE Work-site Enforcement Group. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Doug Davis and Ryan D. McConnell.




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