Twenty illegal immigrants indicted, 11 arrested.
An eastern Colorado dairy was raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers and local authorities last week, resulting in the arrests of 11 Hispanic employees with fraudulent citizenship and work documents.
Nine other employees at Wildcat Dairy in Fort Morgan also suspected of using false papers remain at large, several news outlets reported.
The June 1 raid occurred after federal investigators determined that 89% of the dairy’s workers were not authorized to work in the U.S., ICE reported.
The 20 dairy workers were indicted on state criminal charges of criminal impersonation and possessing fraudulent documents. They were citizens from Mexico (17), El Salvador (1), Guatemala (1) and Honduras (1).
All those arrested were sent to the Morgan County Jail pending bond or trial.
The dairy was “deserted,” after some 50 of the farm’s 60 employees either were arrested or fled, Colorado‘s 9news.com reported.
The station reported that Wildcat Dairy’s owner was concerned with how he would care for his 11,500 cows with the labor loss.
Dairy managers cooperated with the arrest operations, the Denver Post reported.
The investigation was conducted by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Fort Morgan Police Department, Brush Police Department, Morgan County Sheriff's Office, and the Colorado 13th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
The indictment charged 20 people with possessing or using false documents to unlawfully gain employment in the U.S., including fraudulent alien registration (I-551, aka "green card") and social security cards, ICE said. The indictment for each of the individuals was unsealed upon their arrest. The indictment for the remaining nine people remains sealed until they are arrested.
"It's important that we increase security and oversight of government identity documents as technology makes it easier to create high-quality fraudulent documents," said David Marwell, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Denver. "ICE HSI leads Document and Benefit Fraud task forces in Colorado and nationwide composed of local, state and federal agencies to identify, investigate and help prosecute document and benefit thieves." Marwell oversees a four-state area, including Colorado.
ICE said document and benefit fraud pose a severe threat to national security and public safety because they create a vulnerability that may enable terrorists, criminals and illegal aliens to gain entry to and remain in the U.S. One of the ways ICE-HSI addresses the infrastructure of illegal immigration is by detecting and deterring fraud before it erodes the integrity of the immigration process.