Grand jury indicts 7 employees from George’s chicken processing plant

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Seven individuals who were involved in hiring or supervising employees at George’s Processing Inc., in Butterfield, Mo., have been indicted by a federal grand jury, in separate but related cases, on charges related to harboring and hiring illegal aliens. These indictments were announced by U.S. Attorney John F. Wood, Western District of Missouri; the case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Guadalupe Castro, 32, of Verona, Mo.; Brad Vansandt, 48, and Dora Ruiz, 32, both of Monett, Mo.; Jody Salinas, 29, and Billy Essley, 41, both of Cassville, Mo.; Gary Creed, 31, of Washburn, Mo.; and Hilda Gomez, 35, address unknown; were charged in separate indictments that were returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday. Those indictments were unsealed and made public Wednesday following the arrests of all the defendants.

"No one is above the law, whether employers or employees," Wood said. "These indictments demonstrate our commitment to aggressively prosecuting not only those who are in this country illegally, but also those who knowingly hire or employ them."

"These indictments demonstrate 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." Brown heads a six-state area that includes: Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas and Wisconsin.

The seven charged defendants were supervisors, managers, human resource specialists, or otherwise involved in the hiring and employment process at George’s Processing. This series of indictments is part of the active and ongoing investigation arising from a worksite enforcement operation conducted at George’s Processing on May 22, 2007. ICE special agents executed a federal search warrant and arrested 136 illegal aliens from Mexico and Guatemala on administrative immigration charges. Agents from U.S. Marshals Service assisted with the arrests. As a result of that enforcement action, 28 of those employees were also charged criminally with immigration and identity theft violations.

Wood emphasized that "this is an active and ongoing investigation. We will prosecute everyone we find in this investigation who has committed a provable crime."

These seven defendants were each charged with harboring illegal aliens at George’s Processing for commercial advantage or private financial gain, as well aiding and abetting others to encourage illegal aliens to enter or reside in the United States.

In addition, Castro, Gomez, Salinas, and Ruiz were each charged with aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft. The indictments allege that they assisted others to use a means of identification of another person – including Social Security cards – in order to falsely represent themselves as U.S. citizens.

Wood cautioned that the charges contained in these indictments are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard E. Monroe and Gary K. Milligan, Western District of Missouri. They were investigated by ICE and the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General.


Source: ICE


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