MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A 46-year-old St. Peter man indicted on charges of transporting and harboring illegal immigrants had allegedly provided larger poultry companies in Minnesota with some of his workers, according to a federal affidavit.
Juan Arrazolo was charged this week with one count of transporting an illegal immigrant and one count of harboring an illegal immigrant, both for his own financial gain.
Arrazolo operates a business called Poultry Services Management, which provides labor to various poultry farms. The work includes “trimming beaks, vaccinating chickens, and similar duties,” according to the affidavit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Charles Bautch.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Arrazolo provided workers for large corporate poultry farms in Minnesota and the surrounding area. The affidavit specifically lists Gold’n Plump, Michael Foods and Crystal Farms as companies that contracted with Arrazolo.
Messages left with spokespeople for those companies were not returned Friday.
The affidavit suggests Arrazolo knew his workers were in the U.S. illegally. According to the affidavit, one worker told Arrazolo he was here illegally and “Arrazolo told him it was not a problem.”
That worker, a Honduran identified by the initials F.J.J., told authorities that about two dozen people, some of whom were in the U.S. without legal permission, traveled from farm to farm working for Arrazolo.
F.J.J. told authorities that a cousin who worked for Arrazolo had told him there was work available. In September 2010, Arrazolo traveled to Houston and picked up F.J.J. and three other people, the affidavit says.
Arrazolo, who also owns a bar in Kasota, told officials in Le Sueur County that he had been working for poultry farmers for about 15 years, and had 15 employees who live in trailer parks in St. Peter and in Mankato.
The investigation began in July 2010 by ICE Homeland Security Investigations.
Arrazolo is from Mexico and is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. His attorney, Alberto Miera, said Arrazolo is one of the smaller contractors in the area.
“There are a number of subcontractors who have many more employees, with common knowledge that the vast majority … are undocumented,” Miera said.
He said his client did not travel across the U.S. border for workers, and the case is an example of hard-working people suffering the consequences for doing jobs that U.S. citizens do not want.
“I’m sad that it’s oftentimes the case that the small fish is fried as an example,” he said. “I’m hoping that justice, fairness, and common sense is ultimately what prevails.”
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