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Indictment returned against Action Rags USA owner and 2 managers

Similar charges made last week against a third manager

HOUSTON — The owner of Action Rags USA and two managers were indicted Thursday on various charges of violating federal immigration laws.  This indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle, Southern District of Texas, and Robert Rutt, special agent in charge of the Houston Office of Investigations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Action Rags USA is an exporter and grader of used clothing.

Mabarik Kahlon, 45, Valerie Rodriguez, 34, and Cirila Barron, 38, are all charged in count one of the Indictment with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and to induce illegal aliens to come to the United States.  Count two of the Indictment charges them with inducing aliens to enter the United States for commercial advantage. Both counts carry a maximum term of 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine or both.  A third manager, Mayra Herrera-Gutierrez, 32, was charged last week by “Criminal Information” with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and to induce illegal aliens to come to the United States.

ICE began its investigation into Action Rags, an east Houston plant located at 1225 Port Houston, following complaints in May 2007.  According to the criminal complaint previously filed in this case, investigators located and interviewed a number of former and current plant employees. The yearlong investigation revealed the company did not properly complete the required I-9 forms to verify eligibility for employment.  The investigation also determined that the company knowingly hired illegal aliens, and reportedly paid them in cash until they were able to purchase fraudulent identity and social security cards from local flea markets.

The investigation ultimately led to ICE agents executing a search warrant at Action Rags.  During the search warrant execution, ICE agents discovered about 200 persons employed at the plant who worked a single shift from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily on June 25, 2008.  ICE agents administratively arrested more than 150 illegal aliens, most from Mexico, who were discovered working at the plant. The Indictment alleges that illegal aliens made up roughly 85 percent of the Action Rags workforce, and that the defendants engaged in acts that openly flouted federal immigration law.

All four defendants are expected to appear in federal court next week.  Two managers, Barron and Herrera-Gutierrez, who are illegal aliens themselves, remain in custody due to ICE immigration detainers lodged against them.  Kahlon and Rodriguez remain on bond.

This case was investigated by ICE; it is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Doug Davis and Ryan D. McConnell, Southern District of Texas.

A criminal indictment is a formal accusation of alleged criminal conduct, not evidence.  A Criminal Information is when a defendant waives their Constitutional right to be indicted by a federal grand jury on a felony charge.  Each defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.