DES MOINES, Iowa - An official with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union was sentenced Friday to a year and a day in federal prison for harboring illegal aliens employed at the Swift & Company processing plant in Marshalltown, Iowa. This sentencing resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that also included the December 2006 arrests of 1,297 illegal aliens employed at Swift plants in six states.
Braulio Pereyra-Gabino was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ronald E. Longstaff, who also ordered him to pay a $2,000 fine. Pereya-Gabino was convicted May 8 by a federal jury. During the trial prosecutors demonstrated that Pereya-Gabino concealed illegal aliens, and shielded them from detection in a building at the Swift & Company plant at 402 North 10th Ave. in Marshalltown, Iowa.
"This sentence sends a clear message that criminal charges and prison time are very real consequences of facilitating the employment of illegal aliens," said Estela Biesemeyer, resident agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Des Moines. "Working in partnership with the U.S. Attorney's Office, ICE has made it a priority to pursue criminal charges against those who engage in identity theft, and also those who allow such fraud to flourish in the workplace."
Pereyra-Gabino was arrested July 10, 2007, along with Chris Lamb, a human resources employee, in Marshalltown. Lamb, a 17-year Swift employee, was also charged with harboring illegal aliens. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to probation earlier this year.
The criminal arrests of Braulio-Pereyra and Lamb followed the Dec. 12, 2006, administrative arrests of 1,297 illegal aliens when agents executed civil search warrants at Swift facilities in the following six cities: Marshalltown, Iowa; Grand Island, Neb.; Worthington, Minn.; Greeley, Colo.; Hyrum, Utah; and Cactus, Texas. Subsequently, 274 of those arrested were criminally charged with identity theft or using fraudulent documents. ICE administratively arrested an additional 18 illegal aliens during a subsequent two-day operation at the six plants July 10 and 11, 2007.
Since ICE was established in March 2003, it has dramatically enhanced its efforts to combat the unlawful employment of illegal aliens in this country. ICE's comprehensive strategy for worksite enforcement is aimed at promoting national security and public safety, protecting critical infrastructure, and ensuring fair labor standards.
So far in fiscal year 2008 (October 2007 through July 11, 2008), ICE has made 937 criminal arrests in connection with worksite enforcement investigations. Of those, 99 involve owners, managers, supervisors or human resources employees who face charges ranging from harboring to knowingly hiring illegal aliens. In addition to the criminal arrests, ICE has made more than 3,500 administrative arrests for immigration violations during worksite investigations in that same time frame. Last year, ICE made more than 4,900 arrests in worksite enforcement cases, including 863 involving criminal violations. Last year's figure represents a 45-fold increase in criminal worksite arrests compared to fiscal year 2001. Furthermore, in fiscal year 2007, ICE obtained more than $31 million in criminal fines, restitutions and civil judgments as a result of worksite related enforcement actions.