Making Immigration Happen
Chicago Woman Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens
A woman was arrested Wednesday, February 13, 2013, on charges she allegedly sold fraudulent identity documents to illegal aliens. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigra

Tag Archives: harboring illegal aliens

Restaurant Owners Indicted for Illegal Alien Harboring and Mail Fraud

Husband and wife restaurant owners were charged with harboring illegal aliens and mail fraud in an indictment that was unsealed Thursday, November 29, 2012, in the Northern District of Indiana. The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), IRS’s-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Department of Labor-Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration-Office of the Inspector General, and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

Michael McClellan, 38, and Tina McClellan, 36, of Richton Park, Ill., own and operate the Paragon Restaurant in Schererville, Ind., and T & M Daycare located in Calumet City, Ill., were charged in an indictment that was returned Oct. 17 and unsealed Nov. 29.

Michael McClellan was charged with one count of harboring illegal aliens and three counts of mail fraud. McClellan and his wife Tina McClellan were also charged with one count of making money transactions in criminally derived property.

The indictment alleges that in February 2009, and continuing until on or about March 2010, Michael McClellan harbored illegal aliens at the Paragon Restaurant and at a home he owned located behind the restaurant. He also submitted false quarterly reports which failed to account for restaurant employees he had paid in cash in a scheme to defraud the Indiana Department of Workforce Development out of unemployment insurance tax contributions.

Additionally, the indictment alleges that from 2006 through 2010 the McClellans, as owners of the T & M Daycare center, provided false information to the State of Illinois claiming that certain children had attended the daycare, when, in fact, they had not, causing reimbursements of at least $200,000 from the State of Illinois and Healthy Start program. The McClellans used the criminally derived funds to purchase the home located behind the Paragon Restaurant.

“Homeland Security Investigations holds employers accountable when they knowingly hire an illegal alien workforce to gain an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors. Our goal is to level the playing field for those businesses that play by the rules”, said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago.

Assistant United States Attorney Gary Bell, Northern District of Indiana, is prosecuting the case.

The United States Attorney’s Office emphasized that an indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons charged are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Two Criminal Aliens Sentenced for Alien Smuggling and Hostage Taking

An illegal alien from Mexico was sentenced Tuesday, September 25, 2012, to 36 months in prison for harboring illegal aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Houston Police Department (HPD).

Carlos Martinez-Aguilar, 44, was sentenced Sept. 25 to three years in prison. Events leading to his arrest began Aug. 19, 2011, when the Houston Emergency Center received a 911 call at its operations facility from a subject who spoke only Spanish. The victim advised he was being held against his will at a house in Houston by alien smugglers who had been hired to smuggle him to an unspecified location in the United States. He claimed another person, later identified as Cesar Avila, 38, an illegal alien from Honduras, was armed with a handgun and had threatened to kill them. The victim indicated that he and others feared for their lives.

The 911 call was traced to a residence located on the 100 block of Jamaica Street in Houston by HPD officers. The building had no windows and the French doors on the north side of the residence had its glass panes covered with aluminum foil. Once inside, several people, later identified as hostages, began covertly pointing to Avila as the hostage taker and smuggler. Officers also discovered a semi-automatic handgun and a ledger detailing payments by the smuggling organization under the mattress where Avila was sitting.

Several of the aliens held hostage identified Martinez-Aguilar as having come into the building where they were being held, drinking beer with Avila prior to law enforcement arriving, and inquiring about the status of payments of smuggling fees. The victims indicated Martinez-Aguilar was not involved in abusing or threatening them and had provided them food and blankets. Officers discovered Martinez-Aguilar had been living in the larger house in front of the building where the aliens were housed.

Another victim stated that prior to the arrival of the police, he and the others were being held against their will and threatened with death if they did not pay or arrange to have paid another $5,000 to the smugglers.

Martinez-Aguilar pleaded guilty Jan. 31. Avila was convicted by a Houston jury June 6 and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 9, at which time he faces up to life in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie Searle and Doug Davis, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

30 Alien Smugglers Arrested by ICE in Southern Texas

A total of 28 individuals were arrested Tuesday, September 18, 2012, with 12 being federally charged with alien transportation and harboring, announced U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman, Western District of Texas and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magdison, Southern District of Texas. This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Border Patrol.

In San Antonio, a nine-count federal grand jury indictment returned Sept.12 and unsealed Tuesday, September 18, 2012, charges the 12 in custody and eight other defendants with conspiring between September 2011 and August 2012 to transport and harbor undocumented aliens for financial gain. Other charges in the indictment include aiding and abetting the harboring of aliens; aiding or assisting an aggravated felon to enter the United States; transporting aliens for financial gain and placing in jeopardy the life of persons; and transporting aliens for financial gain.

“Today’s criminal charges are the result of the tireless efforts of HSI special agents, CBP Border Patrol partners and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate and arrest those involved in the illicit and dangerous activity of human smuggling,” said Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. “The results today will have an impact on an organization that has endangered its human cargo and has shown very little restraint as to what extremes they will go to make a profit. HSI strongly discourages and warns people from becoming a victim and attempting to illegally enter the United States. Tragically, many have lost their lives while attempting this illegal and treacherous trip.”

“Cooperation and coordination among all law enforcement agencies is key to disrupting transnational criminal organizations and keeping our border communities safe. Today is a perfect example of what unity of effort and a whole-of-government approach means in combatting transnational criminal organizations and ultimately keeping the American public safe. Customs and Border Protection in South Texas continues to strengthen partnerships, conduct joint operations and share information with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” stated CBP South Texas Commander Robert L. Harris.

According to court documents, authorities allege that the defendants, with reckless disregard for human life, used stolen vehicles to transport more than 100 undocumented aliens from Laredo to staging areas in San Antonio.

The following individuals were arrested in San Antonio Tuesday, September 18, 2012: April Gaitan, 26; Armando Gaitan, 29; Sonia Campos-Delgado, 34; and Florencio Vaquez, 25. The following two defendants were arrested in Del Valle, Texas, outside of Austin: Carlos Rocha Leos, 35, and Sergio Israel Leos, 19.

Arrested in Laredo were Ivan Martinez and Elvia Vasquez-Morales, 38. The following four additional defendants were already in custody on other charges: Everlin Moreno-Mejia, 22; Luis Aguirre-Guerrero, 25; and Juan Manuel Vasquez-Laris, 26.

Eight defendants in this indictment remain fugitives, including ringleader Fernando Martinez-Magana, 40, aka “Dieciseis” aka “Zeta 16” aka “Don Fernando,” of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

A separate, but related, indictment was also returned in the Laredo Division of the Southern District of Texas Sept. 11, which alleges that between June 30 and Dec. 31, 2011, several individuals conspired to transport and move illegal aliens who had come to, entered and remained in the United States. The sealed indictment was partially unsealed today following the arrests of 16 charged in the case. The indictment remains sealed for those not yet in custody.

Upon conviction of the conspiracy charge, the defendants face up to 20 years imprisonment. The remaining charges call for either 20-year or 10-year maximum terms of imprisonment upon conviction.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.