The arrests, which represent the latest action in ICE's ongoing efforts to protect critical infrastructure facilities nationwide, took place in California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. There is no evidence that any have terrorist ties or were engaged in a terrorist plot.
All the individuals were employed by Brock Enterprises, a company in Beaumont, Texas, that provides contract workers to facilities nationwide associated with the petrochemical industry, the nuclear industry and other energy sectors. Brock Enterprises is cooperating fully with ICE and is not a target of the ongoing investigation. It is believed that many of these illegal workers presented fraudulent documents to Brock Enterprises in order to gain employment.
While ICE agents arrested all the individuals on administrative immigration violations, some could face potential federal criminal charges, if applicable, for violations that include re-entering the United States after deportation and use of fraudulent documents to gain employment. All of those arrested are from Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.
"The aliens arrested in this operation had access to sensitive critical infrastructure locations and therefore pose a serious homeland security threat. Not only are their identities in question, but given their illegal status, these individuals are vulnerable to potential exploitation by terrorist and other criminal organizations," said Michael J. Garcia, Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary for ICE. "These arrests demonstrate how ICE is using immigration laws to remove potential threats to some of the nation's most sensitive facilities."
The investigation began in March 2005, when ICE agents in Tampa, Fla., received information that certain contract employees working at the Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant in Citrus, Fla., were illegal aliens. ICE agents subsequently arrested six illegal aliens performing maintenance work at the nuclear power plant. All were employees of Brock Enterprises of Texas. At least one of these individuals was later indicted on criminal charges for re-entering the country after deportation.
ICE agents in Tampa coordinated their investigation with ICE agents in Houston and Beaumont, Texas, who performed an inspection of Brock Enterprises to review employment records. The ICE audit revealed discrepancies involving an unspecified number of Brock Enterprises employees. ICE agents found that these employees were serving as contract workers at refineries, power plants, and other critical infrastructure locations around the country.
The undocumented aliens worked at the following facilities:
- The Centerpoint Energy Power Plant in Jewett, Texas - 10 individuals
- The Lagloria Oil & Gas Co. Refinery in Tyler, Texas – 2 individuals
- The Lyondell-Citgo Refinery in Houston, Texas – 20 individuals
- The Phillips-Borger Refinery in Borger, Texas – 6 individuals
- The Valero Houston Refinery in Houston, Texas – 1 individual
- The Valero-Texas City Refinery in Texas City, Texas – 3 individuals
- The Conoco-Phillips Refinery in Wilmington, Calif. – 8 individuals
- The Reliant Energy-Ormund BCH Power Plant in Oxnard, Calif. – 2 individuals
- The Sunoco Inc., Refinery in Tulsa, Okla. – 5 individuals
- The Entergy-Gerald Andrus Power Plant in Greenville, Miss. – 1 individual
- The Federal Express Air Cargo Facility in Memphis, Tenn. – 1 individual
- The Gulf South Pipeline Co. in Monroe, La. – 1 individual
In accordance with ICE's homeland security mission, ICE agents prioritize worksite enforcement efforts by focusing on investigations related to critical infrastructure, national security and employers who engage in egregious criminal violations. There is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of any of the companies that own the targeted refineries, power plants and other facilities.