77 illegal aliens arrested in quad-state area

Published 4:52 pm Friday, March 30, 2007

A five-month long investigation culminated Thursday with the arrest of 77 illegal aliens working on construction projects in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Many of those arrested worked for the Greenville-based Tarrasco Steel, a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said. The company, owned by Jose S. Gonzalez, has been under ICE investigation following allegations of criminal misconduct. Tarrasco Steel provides steel re-bar and employees for construction jobs.

The Massman Construction Co. was also found to have employed illegal alien workers in New Orleans.

The majority of the Tarrasco Steel employees were using unauthorized social security numbers and Gonzalez allegedly falsified information on employee eligibility forms.

The illegal aliens were working on the rebuilding of the Mississippi-Arkansas bridge in Greenville; the U.S. 90 bridge in Gulfport; the Huey P. Long bridge in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; the Interstate 40 Seismic retro fit in Memphis; and the Louisiana 1 bridge in Leeville, La.

At the Greenville site, 36 were arrested, and in Gulfport seven were detained. The statement said that employees allegedly did not have the proper welding certifications.

“There is serious public safety concern when illegal aliens are employed in the construction of bridges in our community,” said Michael A. Holt, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigation in New Orleans.

The 76 males and lone female were taken into ICE custody on federal immigration charges for failure to present documentation of authorized presence in the United States. They will be charged with being in violation of U.S. immigration laws.

ICE will seek criminal prosecution of up to 10 illegal aliens who used counterfeit or fraudulent social security information.