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Eight Mexican nationals arrested in Sandusky immigration raid face illegal re-entry charges

By Eric Heisig • Jun 24, 2018 at 5:08 PM

A federal grand jury indicted eight people arrested in a large raid at a Sandusky garden and landscaping company with illegally re-entering the United States.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says in a news release Friday that all eight are citizens of Mexico and were previously deported. One man, Cuberto Gallardo-Trujillo, was deported in 1994 and 2003 and previously convicted for delivering cocaine, court records show. Another man, Josefino Alvaro Leon-Herrera, also has a marijuana trafficking conviction and was removed twice in 2003 at ports-of-entry in Texas, prosecutors say.

The eight, along with 106 others, were arrested June 5 when 200 agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies descended upon Corso's Flower & Garden Center locations in Sandusky and Castilia. While there, agents enacted search warrants and detained people they suspect of being in the U.S. illegally.

The raid was one of the largest in U.S. history, though it was topped this week when authorities conducted another one at locations owned by Fresh Mark, a meat supplier, in Salem and the Canton area.

In all, 146 workers were arrested Tuesday, all suspected of being in the country illegally. The people arrested largely hailed from Guatemala.

Authorities have confirmed investigations are under way into Corso's and Fresh Mark. The latter has been enrolled for more than a decade in a voluntary ICE program aimed at ensuring companies hire lawful employees.

ICE is also working with prosecutors to potentially bring cases against the people rounded up from Fresh Mark, should any have previously been deported or stolen someone's identity, ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said Friday.

This month's raids in Ohio come as President Donald Trump and his administration's aggressive policies on immigration have come to the forefront.

In addition to ICE agents conducting large-scale roundups before initiating deportation proceedings against many from Latin America, Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "zero tolerance" policy on people crossing the country's southern border has led to an outcry because of reports of children being separated from their parents. There have also been reports of children being housed in facilities that, while not exactly jails, share some striking similarities.

The president, following a public-relations pummeling, issued an executive order Wednesday that stops the family separation. He has said he still wants to strictly enforce border security.

Ohio's raids have lent to a sense of uneasiness in Latino communities, especially as ICE's show of force has come to their own backyards.

"Don't let anybody tell you this is about enforcing the law," Veronica Dahlberg, executive director of Latino advocacy group HOLA Ohio, said Tuesday after the Fresh Mark raids. "This is about decimating the Latino community."

Many of the men from this month's raids were taken to the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in Youngstown, while many of the women from the June 5 raid are being housed in a facility in Battle Creek, Michigan. Women detained Tuesday are in a facility in Geauga County, Walls said.

One woman from the Sandusky raid has been deported, Walls said. Several workers from both raids were released for health and family, ICE says.

Corso's has said it was not aware any employees were using falsified documents to gain employment. Fresh Mark has said nothing about the investigation other than referring reporters to federal authorities, though records show it has a history of hiring people suspected of being in the country illegally.


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