A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted five individuals for transporting illegal aliens within the United States.
A three-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges Crystal Gail Escalante, 37, of Haleyville, Deivin Marquitos Escalante-Vasques, 30, of Haleyville., Adan Riz-Simaj, 33, Carlos Gutierrez-Gabriel, 23, and Tomas Gabriel-Adjualip, 30, with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens within the United States for profit, unlawful employment of illegal aliens, and money laundering.
According to the indictment, between January 2018 and October 2020, the defendants transported and employed illegal aliens in Walker and Winston counties.
The Daily Mountain Eagle has previously reported that Crystal and Deivin Escelante had been accused in federal criminal and civil complaints of hiring undocumented foreign nationals through their business, The Grand Family Enterprise LLC (GFE), and transporting them to Mar-Jac Poultry.
"From January 2019 through fall 2020, Mar-Jac paid Crystal Escalante, Deivin Escalante, or GFE, or a combination of one or more of them at least $14,000,000. Weekly total payments ranged between approximately $119,000 and $191,000," the federal complaint said. Some months had monthly payments approaching or exceeding $800,000. The funds were deposited or transferred into Haleyville checking accounts at Traders & Farmers Bank and Wells Fargo Bank.
"In July 2018, an employee at Mar-Jac indicated concern to a United States Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent that Crystal Escalante was providing laborers to Mar-Jac who were undocumented foreign nationals. At least part of this concern was based on a laborer, provided by Crystal Escalante to Mar- Jac at its Jasper, Alabama facility, who was using the same name and social security number as a different employee at a Mar-Jac facility in Mississippi. This prompted further investigation by HSI," the complaint said.
The announcement regarding the recent indictments was made Wednesday by U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer.
The maximum penalty for conspiracy to transport illegal aliens within the United States is 10 years in prison. The maximum penalty for unlawful employment of illegal aliens is 10 years in prison. The maximum penalty for money laundering is 20 years in prison.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Penfield is prosecuting the case.