By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan

As many of my readers recall, on August 7, 2019, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided seven chicken processing plants involving five companies, Koch Foods, Peco Foods, PH Food, Inc., Pearl River Foods LLC and A&B Inc., in six small towns surrounding Jackson, Mississippi. After the raid and detention of 680 workers, there was an outcry that no company officials were arrested. I wrote an article about this at that time.

One year later, on August 6, 2020, numerous company officials have been indicted in federal court, Southern District of Mississippi. U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst announced the indictments returned by a federal grand jury against four individuals, who were managers, supervisors, or human resources personnel at companies where criminal search warrants were executed in August 2019.
According to the indictment, Salvador Delgado-Nieves with A&B, Inc. was charged with three counts of harboring “illegal aliens,” three counts of assisting “illegal aliens” in falsely representing themselves to be United States citizens, three counts of assisting “illegal aliens” in obtaining false Social Security cards, and one count of making a false statement to law enforcement officials when he denied having hired “illegal aliens’ at A&B, Inc. in Pelahatchie. Delgado-Nieves faces up to 74 years in federal prison and $2.5 million in fines for these criminal violations.

Another A&B, Inc. official, Iris Villalon, was indicted on one count of harboring an “illegal alien,” one count of making false statements when she denied she had hired “illegal aliens” for employment with A&B, Inc., and one count of causing false employer quarterly wage reports to be filed when she knew the Social Security number represented in such reports was not assigned by the Social Security Administration to that specific “illegal alien” employee listed therein. Villalon faces up to 20 years in prison and $750,000 in fines for these criminal violations.

Carolyn Johnson, the Human Resource Manager, and Aubrey “Bart” Willis, the Manager at Pearl River Foods LLC in Carthage, Mississippi, were also indicted. Johnson was indicted on six felony counts of harboring an “illegal alien”, one count of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Willis was indicted on five counts of harboring an “illegal alien.” If convicted, Johnson faces a maximum of up to 84 years in prison and $2.25 million in fines, while Willis faces a maximum of up to 50 years and $1.25 million in fines.

Acting ICE Deputy Director Matthew T. Albence stated, “The arrests made last year pursuant to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s execution of more than a dozen search warrants, have thus far yielded 126 indictments, 117 criminal arrests and 73 convictions. In total, more than 403 individuals falsified social security information in order to gain illegal employment in the United States. Companies who intentionally or knowingly base their business model on an illegal workforce deprive law abiding citizens and lawful immigrants of employment opportunities…”.
Interestingly, the indictments only involve two of the five companies raided and under investigation. However, U.S. Attorney Hurst stated these indictments “mark the beginning, not the end, of our investigations and prosecutions. Rest assured that we will continue to pursue criminal wrongdoers and enforce our criminal laws wherever the evidence may take us.”

If after reading this article, you are concerned over your immigration compliance, the presence of undocumented workers and/or Form I-9 violations, I invite you to read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book that I co-authored with Greg Siskind, available at, or contact me for a consultation.