U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said they arrested 114 suspected criminal aliens Tuesday from an Ohio landscaping company.
200 federal officers were involved in the operation at two locations of Corso’s Flower & Garden Center. Charges including immigration crimes, identity theft, and tax evasion are expected to be filed against those arrested.
Corso’s has not yet been criminally charged but is under investigation. A “large volume of business documents” was seized in searches of the locations according to an ICE spokesman.
The raid is part of a continuing effort by the White House to clamp down on employers who hire illegal aliens.
Some criticized the massive manpower used in the operation, but considering that Corso’s has over 360,000 square feet of grow space, setting up a permit and air surveillance requires a force of that size.
Agents examined the records of 313 employees and found 123 suspicious for immigration violations, identity theft and/or tax evasion, according to Steve Francis, head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit in Detroit. He also said that the U.S. citizens whose identities had been stolen were unaware.
“We verified that a lot of U.S. persons were obviously unaware of this. It’s caused them a lot of hardship,” Francis said.
The tax evasion charges likely stem from cash payments to the employees which went unreported and untaxed. If any are charged with tax fraud, that would come from filing under a false identity.
The tax charges are more evidence that a large part of the illegal alien community does not pay their taxes. Earlier this month, ICE reported a construction contracting scheme that left more than $20 million in payroll untaxed.