Co. Accused Hiring Illegal Workers
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Illegal immigrants cross into the United States from Mexico every day, and U.S. Border Patrol agents typically just take them back across the border.
But when 13 immigrants were found in a minivan a year ago near Hatch, federal authorities decided to investigate where they were going.
What they found led to indictments accusing a company that makes T-shirts in Georgia and Alabama of employing illegal immigrants provided by a smuggling ring operating across the Southwest.
U.S. Attorney John Kelly said the illegal workers paid up to $1,000 each to smugglers who transported them from central Mexico across the border into New Mexico and then east to the plants in Trenton, Ga., and Henegar, Ala.
The president of the company, Fred Parrish, is alleged to have recruited the illegal workers from co-defendants Saul and Rachel Resendiz of Dalton, Ga.
Ten people were named in the indictments.
``We see this case as important because instead of simply returning the immigrants (to Mexico) ... we in effect followed the transportation pattern to the southeast United States and identified the source,″ Kelly said Monday.
The indictment says Atlantic Finishing Inc. hired the immigrants under false names and concealed their immigration status with bogus documents.
``In my 25-year history (with the Border Patrol), I’ve never seen a case that took people from recruitment in the interior of Mexico to a predetermined destination with jobs lined up,″ said William Veal, chief of the agency’s El Paso sector.
Federal officials said the ``recruits″ were sent to the Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, area and would eventually cross into the United States. They would be housed at hotels in El Paso, Texas, until they could be sent to safe houses in the southern New Mexico towns of Las Cruces and Hatch.
The ring used lookouts who would advise when Border Patrol checkpoints on Interstate 25, which goes from El Paso into New Mexico, were closed, Kelly said.
Then the illegal workers were smuggled north to Albuquerque, then east.
``This case illustrates how demand created by a U.S. company has the effect of luring and recruiting Mexican nationals and others from Latin America to cross the international border,″ Kelly said.
Kelly said Parrish is free on $10,000 bond.
There was no answer at the company’s Georgia or Alabama plants or at Parrish’s home in Chattanooga, Tenn., late Monday.