GRAND ISLAND, Neb. – Search warrants for worksite hiring violations at agribusinesses in Nebraska and Minnesota led to the arrest of 133 illegal immigrants on Aug. 8, reported Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The arrests came while special agents with HSI executed criminal arrest warrants for 17 individuals allegedly involved in a criminal conspiracy to create a workforce of illegal immigrants in their respective businesses; exploit illegal immigrant laborers for profit; fraud; wire fraud and money laundering.

“The job magnet in the United States is primarily what draws illegal aliens across our borders,” said Special Agent in Charge Tracy J. Cormier, HSI St. Paul, Minnesota, which oversees Nebraska and Minnesota. “This HSI-led criminal investigation has shown that these targeted businesses were knowingly hiring illegal workers to unlawfully line their own pockets by cheating the workers, cheating the taxpayers, and cheating their business competitors.”

Search warrants were served at:

  • Christensen Farms with numerous pork production facilities in Appleton, Minnesota; Sleepy Eye, Minnesota; and Atkinson, Nebraska;
  • Elkhorn River Farms in O’Neill, Nebraska;
  • O’Neill Ventures in O’Neill, Nebraska;
  • La Herradura Restaurant in O’Neill, Nebraska;
  • El Mercadito (grocery store) in O’Neill, Nebraska;
  • A private ranch in O’Neill, Nebraska;
  • La Herradura Restaurant in Stromsburg, Nebraska;
  • GJW LLC with three locations in Ainsworth, Nebraska;
  • J.E. Meurets Grain Co. in Ainsworth, Nebraska;
  • Herd Co Cattle Co. in Bartlett, Nebraska; and
  • Long Pine (farm) in Royal, Nebraska

Federal authorities believe the workers were knowingly hired as part of the alleged conspiracy and exploited the workers through force, coercion or threat of arrest and/or deportation. The individuals listed in the indictment include:

  • Juan Pablo Sanchez Delgado, aka “Pablo”;
  • Antonio De Jesus Castro, aka “Tony”;
  • Magdalena Castro Benitez, aka “'Nena,”;
  • Alma Hernandez Moreno, aka “Aunt”;
  • Anayancy Castro Hernandez, aka “Anay”;
  • Suni Sarahi Sanchez Delgado;
  • John Christopher Good;
  • Eric Beringer;
  • Christopher Thurlow;
  • Mayra P. Jimenez Castellon;
  • Lillian Ajin;
  • Asiyadeth Jimenez Castellon; and
  • John Glidden.

Individuals listed in the indictment who were not in custody on Aug. 8 include:

  • Jaime Garcia Cota, aka “David”;
  • *Fabian Castro, aka “Fabi”
  • *Osvaldo Sanchez Delgado, aka “Lalo,” aka “Lalito”; and
  • *Aracely Heredia Martinez, aka “Donita.”

“Specifically, these illegal aliens were allegedly required to cash their paychecks at an illegal remittance business for a fee, have tax money deducted from their pay even though this money was never paid to the government, and were coerced to remain quiet about this criminal activity,” HSI said.

The operation is part of a 15-month ongoing investigation. Illegal immigrants in ICE custody were transported to a nearby processing facility for deportation proceedings. Several individuals were processed and released from custody “on humanitarian grounds,” HSI noted.