- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2007

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents yesterday arrested 13 managers and employees from a cleaning service operating within the Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Beardstown, Ill., on criminal charges of aggravated identity theft.

After the execution of a criminal search warrant and 27 criminal arrest warrants at Quality Service Integrity (QSI), 49 illegal aliens working at QSI also were arrested.

ICE spokesman Marc Raimondi said evidence uncovered in the investigation indicates that valid identities of U.S. permanent residents and U.S. citizens were obtained and used to employ illegal aliens at QSI. The targets of the warrants, he said, are employees and managers of QSI, which is under contract by Cargill to clean the meat processing plant.

Mr. Raimondi said neither Cargill nor its employees have been charged with any crime. He said the court-authorized warrants allowed ICE agents to search for evidence and to apprehend any illegal-alien workers encountered at the facility.

“Today’s enforcement action is part of 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,” said Ms. Brown, who heads a six-state area that covers Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin.

U.S. Attorney Rodger A. Heaton in Springfield, Ill., said any employer who knowingly hires illegal aliens risks federal felony charges.

“It’s not a risk worth taking,” Mr. Heaton said. “Flagrant disregard for the law corrupts our immigration system.”

A criminal complaint in the investigation charges two QSI managers with aggravated identity theft and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft in connection with the hiring of illegal aliens.

Gerardo Dominguez-Chacon, the Beardstown QSI plant manager, and Maria del Pilar Marroquin de Ramirez, the QSI personnel administrator, both residents of Beardstown, Ill., were taken into custody.

In addition, 25 illegal aliens, employees of QSI, are charged with aggravated identity theft.

The arrests were part of a continuing effort by ICE to target employers who hire illegal aliens and the workers they hire.

Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers, who heads ICE, has described unlawful employment as a “powerful magnet driving illegal immigration,” adding that the agency has made “egregious hiring practices, widespread use of fraudulent documents and blatant disregard for the rule of law” a top priority.

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