Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ICE: Missing In Action V

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is, once again, missing in action. U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Division broke a case of an illegal alien contractor building facilities for U.S. Special Forces at Eglin Air Force Base. ICE claims that one of its jobs is protecting the security infrastructure of the United States, but, again, it was another ICE fail. (I, II, III, IV)

CRESTVIEW — A September arrest of an admitted illegal alien by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office precipitated an investigation that has led to the arrest of a subcontractor who also admitted to being in the United States illegally. The man employed nearly three dozen other workers who are in the country illegally, investigators said.

The workers were all doing drywall work in buildings at the 7th Special Forces cantonment south of Crestview across State 85 from Duke Field. They worked for H&S Drywall, owned by Victor Hugo Contreras-Suarez, 27, a Mexican national married to an American, whose name, Sheyenne Contreras, appears on contract documents, according to a sheriff’s office press release.

“It looks like he used her to sign the paperwork,” said sheriff’s office Investigator George Collins.

According to Contreras-Suarez’s arrest report, on Sept. 15, Collins asked for assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ on-site resident engineer and supervising manager, Jeremiah Walker, who “expressed his concern,” but said he must clear his cooperation with the corps’ legal office. Subsequent attempts by Collins to contact Walker by e-mail and telephone received no reply, according to his report.

Collins then sought and received the assistance of local agents from the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations at Eglin Air Force Base and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. Eglin OSI opened an investigation on Sept. 27 Collins reported, but it wasn’t until Dec. 7 that investigators were able to review critical Corps of Engineers documents, he said.

On Dec. 8, the investigators inspected payroll time sheets from the previous several months. According to Collins’ report, “on the first contractor, we found two out of the seven SSNs (Social Security numbers) to be false, and two others to be questionable.”

Collins’ report said an investigation of a second contractor’s time sheets revealed “15 of the first 16 names we checked to be either false or questionable.”

With H&S Drywall’s conduct looking most suspicious, Collins spent two more days reviewing its company timesheets with the help of the local Social Security office.

“Of the 35 different names listed, we determined that 32 of them were false, stolen or fictitious and others were questionable,” Collins stated in his report.

Working undercover Dec. 9 through 15, Collins continued his investigation on the cantonment site.

“While working in an undercover capacity, (Collins) asked workers if they had completed I-9 forms, which are required for work in the United States and is a requirement for work on government contracts,” stated Contreras-Suarez’s arrest report. “The workers did not know what the form was, stated they did not complete such a form, or were not sure.”

When arrested Dec. 15, Contreras-Suarez admitted to being an illegal alien. Because he was observed driving a 2009 GMC Sierra four-door pick-up truck on the cantonment site, Contreras-Suarez was also arrested for driving without a license.

Marlo Contreras, 23, and Abraham Garcia, 26, both Mexican nationals, were arrested on charges of fraudulent use of personal information. The other 31 suspects had already moved on by the time the identity fraud investigation concluded, Collins said.

“The issue was there is a lot of turnover in the company,” Collins said. “Most of the 35 weren’t even working there anymore when we gat the data to check. The most recent payroll data they had was Nov. 21. This was Dec. 8 when we finally got the records. That particular company was winding down because they were coming to the end of their workload.”

Collins’ report stated that the investigation is ongoing and has expanded beyond identity fraud into contract, criminal labor violations and immigration violations.

“There are a lot of issues of non-payment or under-payment of wages,” Collins said. “There are things we still have to look into. We have to look into the whereabouts of those workers. A lot of them came from Orlando to work for this guy. Some of them told me they came up from Orlando because they worked for him before. Some of them told me they worked for him on a previous government contract.

“I know the Air Force is going to look into some of the administrative issues on the contracts,” Collins said.

So much for ICE doing its job. Now read Edgar's comments on how wonderful ICE is.

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