Feds Bust Alleged Immigration Transportation Businesses

A joint investigation by a number of law enforcement agencies has resulted in the arrests of dozens of Houston business owners and workers. Authorities say those arrested ran transportation companies that illegally transported illegal immigrants throughout the United States. Bill Stamps has more.
The investigation was called Operation Night Moves. For three months, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) watched Houston area businesses as they transported illegal immigrants to various cities. Fourteen businesses were raided leading to the arrest of 23 people. This is John Morton, the Homeland Security Assistant Secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"We are not content with prosecuting a given transportation company a given driver here or there. We are taking on the whole illegal industry. If we are to make serious progress against organized alien smuggling in Houston and elsewhere, we have to attack the businesses that support and then profit from it."

The operation also resulted in the detention of 81 illegal immigrants. U.S. attorney Ed Gallagher says to enter the country, many of them pay more than 600 dollars for a ride to Miami, Atlanta or New York.

ICE arrests"These aliens are desperate to get into the country. They pay cash to get here. Once they arrive, the alien smuggler is given a commission to turn them over to the transportation company. They hire drivers. The vans generally leave at night, hence operation night moves. They move at night to avoid detection. They move at night often with between ten and twenty aliens jammed in SUV's or Vans."

Again, Secretary Morton:

"These are companies that are knee deep in the alien smuggling business and are knee deep in making a profit hand in hand with alien smuggling."

Each of the defendants is charged with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens. It carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.