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04/19/2012

Minnesota man indicted for transporting, harboring illegal aliens

MINNEAPOLIS — A southern Minnesota man made his initial appearance in federal court Thursday to answer charges of transporting and harboring illegal aliens for a scheme to supply cheap labor to large local food-producing farms.

The charges resulted from an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of the St. Peter Police Department, the Nicollet County Sheriff's Office, the LeSueur County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Juan Arrazolo, aka John, 46, of St. Peter, Minn., was indicted April 16 in Minneapolis on one count each of transporting and harboring illegal aliens.

The indictment alleges that during June 2010, Arrazolo illegally transported a Mexican citizen within the United States for the purpose of obtaining a commercial advantage and private financial gain. It also alleges that from February to October 2011, he concealed a Honduran citizen from detection. According to the indictment, the Honduran alien was harbored in a building in St. Peter, Minn. Both Mexican and Honduran men were purportedly employed by Arrazolo's company, which does business as Poultry Service Management. The business provides manual labor to large corporate chicken farms in Minnesota and the surrounding area.

“Anyone who transports or harbors illegal aliens – from transnational criminal gangs to smaller groups operating in rural areas – requires secrecy and often coercion to succeed,” said Mike Feinberg, special agent in charge of HSI Bloomington. “HSI has a long history of targeting criminals who seek illegal gain at the expense of innocents. We work with our state and local law enforcement partners to bring justice to anyone who exploits others for illegal profit.”

The affidavit revealed that the illegal alien from Honduras told federal investigators he worked an average of six 16-hour days per week for about $700 to $800 per month. In addition, he stated he lived in an Arrazolo-supplied mobile home trailer with six other people, described as his friends and family, for which they paid Arrazolo $50 a month each. They also paid extra for utilities.

If convicted, Arrazolo faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison on each charge. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.