15 illegal aliens arrested on federal identity theft charges

Published 3:31 pm Monday, May 8, 2017

BEAUMONT — Federal and state agents arrested 15 illegal aliens working under false identities at the LNG facility under construction in Cameron, Louisiana.

The defendants had all been hired by subcontractors who used hiring offices in Port Arthur to accept applications, interview, and E-verify employees who then report to the jobsite in Louisiana upon hiring.

Acting United States Attorney Brit Featherston with the Eastern District of Texas made the announcement of the arrests on Monday.

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Earlier in the week, a federal grand jury in Beaumont returned indictments charging the individuals with identity theft, using social security numbers of actual citizens, and making false claims of United States citizenship in order to obtain jobs at the facility over the past three years.

The defendants, who are in the United States illegally, were all working under assumed names obtained through the possession of fraudulently obtained legitimate social security numbers and matching birth certificates, primarily issued in Puerto Rico. With such primary identifying information the defendants obtained State issued identification cards from Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, and other states. The use of such documents allowed the illegal aliens to pass the E-verify systems used by their employers to ascertain U.S. citizenship or alien lawful work permits.

All 15 aliens were identified after being arrested under their assumed names. Some had previous encounters with immigration authorities and had returned to the United States, which can lead to further charges being added or increased sentences upon conviction of the current charges.

The defendants had all been hired by subcontractors who used hiring offices in Port Arthur, Texas, to accept applications, interview, and E-verify employees who then report to the jobsite in Louisiana upon hiring. Those arrested and making initial appearances in federal court today are:


Miguel Roblero-Morales, 36, of Guatemala;

Mario Arnulfo Pantaleon-Castaneda, 30, of Guatemala;

Luis Angel Pulido Cervantes, 29, of Mexico;

Joel Pulido-Gutierrez, 27, of Mexico;

Juan Manuel Zavala-Leon, 30, of Mexico;

Rigoberto Romo Martinez, 41, of Mexico;

Jose De Jesus Vega-Gutierrez, 31, of Mexico;

Juan Alexis Juarez-Coto, 46, of Honduras;

Felix Jiminez-Ruiz, 25, of Mexico;

Jose Gutierrez-Valencia, 27, of Mexico;

Bernardo Hernandez-Gallo, 37, of Mexico;

Elizar Alvarez-Barajas, 43, of Mexico;

Roberto Carlos Cruz Cruz, 28 of Mexico;

Guily Tenorio-Sierra, 21, of Mexico; and

Arturo Rebollar-Osorio, 34, of Mexico.

“Protecting critical infrastructure is a national security priority for law enforcement,” Featherston said in a press release.  “To do so we must make sure that workers in our community, and especially those working in proximity to vital national interests like our oil and chemical industries, are legal and properly vetted as required by law.  Further, we must remain vigilant to these concerns to protect the economy and the law abiding worker.”

If convicted, the defendants each face up to five years in federal prison.  The statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.  A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the Texas Department of Public Safety and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert L. Rawls.

An indictment is not evidence of guilt.  All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.