U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers arrested 150 people after raiding more than a dozen businesses Wednesday, most of them located in central Nebraska.
Homeland Security said 133 people were arrested for immigration violations; another 17 are accused of colluding to create a workforce of illegal aliens.
Dozens of people were loaded onto a Homeland Security bus.
Today's arrests were part of a 15-month multi-agency investigation "based on evidence that these companies allegedly knowingly hired illegal aliens at their facilities, and that many of these aliens are using fraudulent identification belonging to U.S. citizens," according to a press release from ICE.
Authorities also served search warrants for worksite hiring violations at agricultural firms in Nebraska and Minnesota, and federal document search warrants at locations throughout Nebraska, Minnesota, and Nevada.
During this investigation, authorities identified employees had been illegally residing and working
in the United States, noting those people may also have been exploited as part of a larger criminal conspiracy, according to the release.
Search warrants were served at the following businesses and locations:
- Christensen Farms with numerous locations in Appleton and Sleepy Eye, Minn.; and Atkinson, Neb.
- Elkhorn River Farms in O’Neill
- O’Neill Ventures in O’Neill, Neb.
- La Herradura Restaurant in O’Neill
- El Mercadito (grocery store) in O’Neill
- A private ranch in O’Neill
- La Herradura Restaurant in Stromsburg, Neb.
- GJW LLC with three locations in Ainsworth, Neb.
- J.E. Meurets Grain Company in Ainsworth;
- Herd Co Cattle Company in Bartlett, Neb.
- Long Pine (farm) in Royal, Neb.
“The job magnet in the United States is primarily what draws illegal aliens across our borders,” said
Special Agent in Charge Tracy J. Cormier, HSI St. Paul, which oversees Nebraska and Minnesota.
“This HSI-led criminal investigation has shown that these targeted businesses were knowingly hiring
illegal workers to unlawfully line their own pockets by cheating the workers, cheating the taxpayers,
and cheating their business competitors.”
The following people listed in the indictment were taken into custody Wednesday:
- Juan Pablo Sanchez Delgado, aka "Pablo"
- Antonio De Jesus Castro, aka "Tony"
- Magdalena Castro Benitez, aka ''Nena"
- Alma Hernandez Moreno, aka "Aunt"
- Anayancy Castro Hernandez, aka "Anay"
- Suni Sarahi Sanchez Delgado
- John Christopher Good
- Eric Beringer
- Christopher Thurlow
- Mayra P. Jimenez Castellon
- Asiyadeth Jimenez Castellon
- John Glidden,
- Jaime Garcia Cota, aka "David"
- Lillian Ajin
In addition, three more people named in the indictment had not yet been detained:
- Fabian Castro, aka "Fabi"
- Osvaldo Sanchez Delgado, aka "Lalo," aka "Lalito"
- Aracely Heredia Martinez, aka "Donita"
Several people were processed and released the same day, the ICE release states.
Those who remained in ICE custody were reportedly transported to a nearby facility and placed in removal proceedings. Detainees were expected to be held in facilities in Nebraska and Minnesota while awaiting removal proceedings, the release states.
Family members of those arrested were advised to inquire about the status and whereabouts of detainees via a 24-hour toll-free hotline, which provides information in English and Spanish: 1-888-351-4024.
According to the release, the following federal, state and local law enforcement agencies also assisted with the operation: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska; ICE Enforcement and
Removal Operations; U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol, CBP Air and
Marine Operations; and the following Nebraska law enforcement agencies: Holt County Sheriff’s
Office, O’Neill Police Department and Nebraska State Patrol