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05-12-2008, 02:03 AM #1
Louisiana: Authorities: Man solicited, housed illegal immigr
Authorities: Man solicited, housed illegal immigrants
By VANESSA C. DEGGINS
Jury selection begins today, May 12, for the federal trial of a Lake Charles man accused of bringing illegal immigrants to the Lake Area and housing them here to work for his business.
Rodney Ryder is charged with conspiracy to harbor certain aliens and harboring aliens.
His employee, Sergio Alire, faces the same charges because federal authorities consider him instrumental in the operation.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted the primary investigation with assistance from Customs and Border Protection, or the Border Patrol.
The indictment states that shortly after Hurricane Rita hit the area, Ryder — with Alire's help — purposely solicited the services of possibly hundreds of illegal immigrants to work for his drywall and contracting company.
In order to avoid detection of such a large operation, Ryder and Alire are alleged to have housed the immigrants in a warehouse owned by Ryder at 5505 Opelousas St. in north Lake Charles.
Ryder also allegedly provided meals and transportation for the immigrants.
In furtherance of this conspiracy, it is alleged that Ryder operated an unlicensed money transfer service in which he cashed the checks he issued to the employees for a 2 percent to 5 percent fee.
Federal prosecutor Donald Washington said operations of this magnitude were more frequent along the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita but have always been common along the southwest border of the United States.
05-14-2008, 08:48 PM #2
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
- Santa Clarita Ca
No there is a huge problem as most of the IAs did nor leave after the work
stopped= crime etc
05-22-2008, 02:29 AM #3
Illegal Immigrant Workers Trial Continues
May 20, 2008
Reported By: Natalie Grise
The Prosecution's case against four Lake Charles businessmen accused of hiring hundreds of illegal aliens to do contract work after Hurricane Rita continued Tuesday, with three key witnesses from inside the camp.
The biggest name taking the stand today, Sergio Alire, the man in charge of recruiting workers for R&R Contracting, owned by Rodney Ryder. The prosecution claims Ryder's company worked with American Workforce Solutions, owned by Keith Smith and Wayne Adams, to house, feed and transport the workers, the majority going to Dunham Price.
Alire was the final witness Tuesday afternoon. He came from the Calcasieu Correctional Center where he has been imprisoned since September 2006. Alire plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and harboring aliens, and his testimony is part of a plea bargain he hopes leads to a reduced sentence.
Alire says came from Mexico in 1999 on a Tourist Visa that was supposed to last six months but never left. Alire claims he was working construction in Baton Rouge around 2000, when he met Rodney Ryder on a job site. That's when Alire says Ryder asked him to come to R&R as a subcontractor. Alire testified that he didn't come to Lake Charles until February of 2006, and at that time the Opelousas Street warehouse had already been converted to a camp for the workers, and was up and running. Alire says his primary role in the company was to hire people, and his initial recruiting for R&R began via phone while he was still in Baton Rouge. Once word spread that jobs with plenty of hours, a rent-free place to live, and catered meals were available, Alire testified he had no trouble finding workers, although he says he knew most of them were illegal at the time he hired them. Alire claimed many workers provided documentation, but he knew by looking at them that they were fake.
Alire's testimony continues tomorrow.
32-year-old Gerardo Ramos testified when he first came he illegally came to America at age 16, and lived in California for a decade. He was deported back to Honduras in 2002, following a Domestic Violence arrest by local California police. In 2004, Ramos says he came back into the country, through Texas. After living there for awhile, Ramos testified he came to Lake Charles following Rita, when a friend told him of the jobs available.
Ramos speaks both English and Spanish, and signed a subcontractor agreement with R&R to work as a security guard at the camp in the Opelousas Street warehouse. In his testimony, Ramos claimed to be hired by Bruce Slinker, who worked as a Supervisor at the camp. Ramos says he presented Slinker his Honduran Driver's License and National Identification Card when asked for his papers--both of which he acknowledged on the stand did not authorize him to work in the US--admitting to Slinker he was in the country illegally. He says he discussed his own illegal status with his then-bosses, Keith Smith and Wayne Adams. Ramos says other AWS employees knew he was an alien.
As a security guard, Ramos said his main responsibilities were enforcing the camp rules, by making sure there were no drugs, alcohol, or prostitutes, along with making sure the workers were awake and taken to the proper job sites. He also says he helped the men fill out forms written in English. Ramos estimated 98% of the workers were there illegally.
Of the exhibits presented during Ramos' testimony was an agreement for a thousand dollar loan from AWS to Ramos. He says the money was part of the $8,000 he paid to have his then-girlfriend and stepson smuggled into the country. Ramos testified that at the time he asked for the loan he didn't tell his bosses why he wanted the money until after he received it. The signed paper was dated August 14, 2006. Upon cross examination, Ramos said he made a mistake, claiming his then-girlfriend came in April of that year, and that the loan in question must be for some other purpose. He went on to say that there was no doubt in his mind he borrowed money from his bosses to help pay the smuggling fee.
Bruce Slinker was the second witness called Tuesday morning. Slinker was once employed by AWS, and identified all four defendants, saying he knew them all from the joint venture. Slinker says his title within the operation was as Maintenance Supervisor at the camp, and was mainly responsible for making sure the workers made it to their jobs. He said there was a high turnover within the camp, and that anywhere from 90 to 140 workers were living there at any given time.
Slinker stated most of his problems came from Sergio Alire, who was introduced to him as the Manager of Personnel. Slinker claims he knew there were illegal workers at the camp, and he wanted to replace them with legal ones. He says he was instructed by Keith Smith and Wayne Adams, but says that was difficult to do because Alire would just bring in more illegal workers, often the same men. Slinker says he brought his concerns about Alire and the overall situation to Smith and Adams on multiple occasions, but that they just told him to keep working on it. Slinker testified "the writing was on the wall," and that he knew there would be legal trouble eventually because of the alien workers. This, he says, lead to his decision to quit. Slinker blamed Alire, saying he "pulled the wool over Rodney's [Ryder] eyes," that Ryder had faith in Alire and would believe him despite anything Slinker said to the contrary. Slinker said he had no hard facts to back up this belief, but it was just his opinion.
The Senior Criminal Research Specialist with ICE testified he got involved in the case after agent Lynn Pope asked for assistance, following a August 17, 2006 incident when a bus transporting the workers to Dunham Price was stopped on I-10 by Border Patrol, and 14 illegal Hondurans were arrested. Search warrants, that Malulee assisted with, were executed on the warehouse following the bus stop. Personnel records were seized, and although some of the records were very incomplete, Malulee says he found 169 names of workers to analyze. He ran those names through the Central Index, which contains the identities of people who had contact with Border Patrol, ICE, or other agencies to determine if the names and social security numbers were legal or not. Malulee claimed he used another common commercial database, Accurint, which generally has the accurate social security number of anyone over the age of 21, once it has been linked to financial institutions or the government. Malulee testified that he created a report with information obtained from those databases, and listed names he suspected to be aliens. In the report, Malulee says just ten of the 169 names he believed were of legal workers. Upon cross examination, Malulee testified his agency does not have access to the official Social Security Database. In fact, he says, the only way to know for sure would be to run the persons prints through AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System).
Hazel Washington was the first witness called today. She is a clerk for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury's Water District, and confirmed a November, 2005 agreement for water with Keith Smith for the Opelousas Street warehouse.