From: ICE Filed 9/29/07 GCN
77 illegal aliens working on construction projects at critical infrastructure sites in four U.S. Southern states were arrested this Thursday morning, March 29, following the culmination of a five-month long U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.
Many of those arrested this morning worked for Tarrasco Steel headquartered in Greenville, Mississippi. The company, owned by Jose S. Gonzalez, has been under ICE investigation following allegations of criminal misconduct. ICE special agents also executed federal search warrants this morning on the local Tarrasco Steel business office complex.
The illegal alien workforce was working on rebuilding the US-90 bridge in Biloxi, the Huey P. Long bridge in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; the Mississippi-Arkansas bridge in Greenville, Mississippi; the I-40 Seismic retro fit in Memphis, Tennessee; and the Louisiana 1 bridge in Leeville, Louisiana.
These structures are part of our nation’s critical infrastructure and are closely scrutinized when it comes to security matters.
The Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, confirmed that the majority of Tarrasco Steel employees were using unauthorized social security numbers for employment. ICE obtained copies of payroll records for the employees for verification of the employees' status in the United States and to substantiate the allegations of criminal misconduct. Gonzalez allegedly falsified and altered information on the I-9 Employee Eligibility Forms.
Tarrasco Steel provides steel re-bar and employees for construction jobs. It has also been determined that the employees allegedly did not have the proper welding certifications.
“There is a serious public safety concern when illegal aliens, who are not authorized to work in the country legally, and who do not possess valid welding certifications, are employed in the construction of bridges in our communities,” said Michael A. Holt, special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in New Orleans. “While there is no reason to believe that these individuals had ill intent against our country, they could have, because of their illegal status, been susceptible to blackmail from individuals wanting to hurt Americans. ICE will continue working tirelessly to identify those who are working illegally at our nation’s critical infrastructure sites.”
The 76 males and one female were taken into ICE custody on federal immigration charges for failure to present documentation of authorized presence in the United States. They will be charged with being in violation of U.S. immigration laws and will remain in ICE custody awaiting the outcome of their cases.
In addition to Tarrasco Steel, the Massman Construction Company was found to have employed illegal alien workers in New Orleans.
ICE will be seeking criminal prosecution of up to 10 illegal aliens who used counterfeit or fraudulent social security information. The cases will be presented to the U.S. Attorneys Offices in the Northern District of Mississippi; the Western District of Tennessee, and the Eastern District of Arkansas. Each respective United States Attorney (USA) will consider other possible criminal charges that may arise from the identification of the illegal aliens.
The investigation into Tarrasco Steel’s alleged criminal misconduct continues. ICE will also be looking at whether or not the Massman Construction Company knowingly hired illegal aliens.
Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) investigations are generally predicated upon the threat to national security posed by unauthorized workers employed in critical infrastructure-related facilities. The goal of CIP investigations is to reduce the vulnerabilities of the nation’s critical infrastructure and key assets to future terrorist attacks. Critical infrastructure has been defined as systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, that are so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, and/or any combination of those matters.
Special Agent Holt commended the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office; the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI); the Biloxi Police Department; the Mississippi Highway Patrol; the Mississippi Department of Transportation; the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office; the Jefferson Parish Levee Police; the United States Coast Guard; the Lake Village Police Department; the Chicot County Sheriff’s Department; the U.S. Department of Labor; the Greater Lafourche Harbor Police; the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office; U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); the Memphis Police Department, and the Memphis Police Department’s Harbor Patrol for their outstanding cooperation.