A couple was convicted of transporting illegal immigrants to provide labor for the Mar-Jac Poultry plant in Jasper, Alabama.
Deivin Marquitos Escalante-Vasquez, 31, and Crystal Gail Escalante, 38, both of Haleyville, Alabama, were convicted by a federal jury on October 12 on charges of conspiracy to transport illegal aliens with in the United States, and money laundering, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
According to an earlier report, the two operated the company The Grand Family Enterprise LLC, which had been providing workers to Mar-Jac’s plant in Jasper since 2014.
Mar-Jac, according to an Associated Press report on the CBS42 website, Mar-Jac stated that it was unaware the illegal activity was occurring.
Evidence presented during the five-day trial showed that the defendants subcontracted over a period of approximately three years with Mar-Jac Poultry, to provide labor to work the lines at the poultry plant. The defendants were said to have filled multiple shifts with undocumented workers, amny of who were from Guatemala and were working under false identities.
Evidence shown at the trial also revealed that the defendants knew those workers’ identities were false, and changed the names and identities when necessary to ensure the false identities would get through the e-Verify system. When the identities could not get through the e-Verify confirmation system, the defendants kept the workers on their payroll.
Over a three-year period, the defendants were paid more than $16 million, and used some of their profits to purchase properties and vehicles. Those assets, as well as the defendants’ bank accounts, will be the subject of a future asset forfeiture proceeding.
“This conviction demonstrates how individuals willing to break the law can take advantage of immigration laws for personal gain,” U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona said. “More importantly, no matter how sophisticated their efforts, we will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners and agencies to see that the immigration laws are followed, and that those who violate them are caught and convicted.”
According to the DOJ, the maximum penalty for conspiracy to transport illegal immigrants in furtherance of their presence in the United States is 10 years, while the maximum penalty for money laundering is 20 years in prison.