News/US: Authorities say immigrant-smuggling ring busted

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Subject: News/US: Authorities say immigrant-smuggling ring busted
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Nov 24 1999 - 12:39:48 EST


November 19, 1999

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) -- A federal grand jury has indicted nine alleged
members of an alien-smuggling ring accused of transporting illegal
immigrants from New Mexico to Florida to harvest fruit and produce, U.S.
Attorney John Kelly announced Thursday.

According to the indictment, two Florida labor contractors paid smugglers
to transport people from El Paso, Texas, to safehouses in Hatch, N.M., and
then to citrus plantations in LaBelle, Fla.

The immigrants were allegedly recruited by Rogelio Chairez-Serrano, 30, of
Salem, N.M., and Augustin Chairez-Serrano, 29, and Margarito
Chairez-Serrano, 32, both of Hatch, N.M.

The contractors were identified as Antonio Madrid, 39, and Manuel Ignacio
Gonzalez, 38, both of LaBelle, Fla.

The charges carry a maximum 10 year prison sentence and $250,000 fine.

Madrid and Gonzales are alleged to have "placed orders" for illegal workers
from the Chairezes and to have paid the Chairezes and their co-conspirators
to smuggle the undocumented people into the United States.

"This case is important because the Immigration and Naturalization Service
has gone up the ladder and developed evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the
part of those driving the market for illegal labor," Kelley said.

Melanie Orhant

morhant@igc.org
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