JASPER, ALA. — Crystal and Deivin Escalante, a couple who runs an Alabama staffing company, were charged in federal court with hiring undocumented immigrants to work for Mar-Jac Poultry at its Jasper, Ala., facility.

A federal complaint said that there was no wrongdoing by Mar-Jac Poultry. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) investigation of the couple’s company, The Grand Family Enterprise (GFE) LLC, began in 2018.

According to an ABC 33/40 News report, the investigation started after a Mar-Jac employee contacted the DHS after seeing a worker use the same name and Social Security number as another employee in Mississippi.

The report added that Mar-Jac paid GFE and the Escalante’s $14 million in payroll from Jan. 2019 through fall 2020. The couple had been contracting workers for the poultry processor since 2014.  

“The contract with Mar-Jac Poultry provides that Crystal Escalante will provide workers ‘legally authorized to work in the United States,’” the complaint said. “The contract also states Crystal Escalante will ‘maintain all appropriate records and documents confirming the identity and work authorization of its employees as required by law.’”

The affidavit adds that GFE was supposed to use the E-Verify system to make sure all employees were authorized to work in the United States. 

During an operation in late March, DHS investigators observed around 10 workers exiting out of five white vans in the Mar-Jac Poultry parking lot in Jasper. Three of the vans were registered to the Escalantes, according to the complaint.

In July 2020, DHS agents responded to a Walker County, Ala., Sheriff’s Office traffic stop, which resulted in finding two undocumented workers who possessed paychecks provided by GFE. 

Agents said they also obtained bank records for accounts used by the Escalantes and GFE to pay and transport undocumented workers.