Fugitive James Hector Acala Arrested at California Port of Entry Attempting to Re-Enter the United States
SALT LAKE CITY – James Hector Alcala, age 44, of Salt Lake City, charged in a 2009 federal indictment with alien smuggling and visa fraud, was arrested on a fugitive warrant as he attempted to re-enter the United States on Christmas Day at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in California. The fugitive arrest warrant was issued for Alcala after he violated conditions of his pre-trial release in Utah and fled the United States in December 2010.
Alcala was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service in San Diego and had an initial appearance in federal court in California on Dec. 26, 2012. Alcala waived his removal hearing, which had been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in California, and will be transferred to Utah by the Marshals Service. It may take a few weeks for Alcala to be returned to Utah. An initial appearance will be set once he is back in Utah.
Alcala was charged in a federal indictment unsealed in July 2009. In addition to Alcala, the Alcala Law Firm, Westside Property Management, and seven other individuals were charged with conspiracy to commit alien smuggling and visa fraud; encouraging and inducing illegal aliens to come to, enter, or remain in the United States; and visa fraud. The indictment alleged that the defendants in the case circumvented the law to obtain visas for employers and the foreign national workers they were employing in Utah. The indictment alleged defendants conspired to profit financially by assisting Utah employers in obtaining H-2B visas for their foreign-national workers by fraudulently representing to the federal government that the foreign nationals were eligible for visas when, in fact, they were not.
Charges against two individuals charged in the indictment, Daniel Trigo Villavicencio, age 34, of Orem and Gustavo Ballesteros-Munoz, age 49, of West Jordan, have been dismissed by federal prosecutors. A fugitive warrant remains in place for Carlos Enrique Gomez-Alvarez, age 44, of Salt Lake City, who fled the country in 2009 after his arrest and initial appearance on the charges in New York.
Arrest warrants, issued at the time of indictment, are still in place for Florentino Jose Ayal Villarreal, age 42, and Olga Adriana Garza Muniz, age 50, both Mexican nationals.
Carlos Manuel Vorher, age 46, of Tooele; Andres Lorenzo Acosta Parra, age 34, of Salt Lake City; and Westside Property Management have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from their involvement in the case. Sentencing hearings are pending.
Westside Property Management, represented by its president, Janet Alcala, pleaded guilty in October 2012 to two counts of visa fraud. According to the plea agreement, Westside Property Management admitted that the company made false representations on immigration forms for several foreign nationals. Westside Property Management falsely stated on the applications that the individuals would be working for the property management company when, in fact, the company knew that the foreign nationals were going to work for a different Utah-based employer that was another client of the Alcala Law Firm. Mrs. Alcala admitted that the company knew that the false statements would be relied on by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to award temporary employment visas to the individuals. Westside Property Management has agreed to forfeit all interests in several pieces of property purchased with proceeds from the criminal offenses.
Parra pleaded guilty in October 2010 to misprison of a felony, charged in a superseding Felony Information. Parra admitted that he worked for the Alcala Law Firm where he assisted clients in obtaining H-2B visas for their foreign-born employees. Parra, who worked for 10 years as a visa assistant in the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and was trained in immigration law, said he quickly learned that the law firm was fraudulently obtaining visas. He admitted he was with law firm employees and associates in Mexico when they instructed foreign nationals to falsify information on forms and to give deceptive answers to questions during the visa interview process. Parra admitted that although he knew the law firm was engaged in fraud, he did not notify the government of the fraud. He also admitted that he knew his presence and comments helped lend support and credibility to the fraudulent scheme.
Vorher pleaded guilty in April 2010 to one count of conspiracy to commit alien smuggling and visa fraud, admitting that he worked with others at the law firm to process H-2B visa petitions for clients he knew did not qualify for the visas. He admitted knowing that clients were looking to get visas for their current workforce, which consisted primarily of Mexican nationals who were not legally in the country. Clients were not looking to fill any employment vacancies as envisioned by the H-2B visa program. Vorher is a former U.S. Border Patrol agent.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; U.S. and Citizenship and Immigration Services; the U.S. Department of Labor; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.