CAMERON PARISH, LA (KPLC) - A spokesman for Bechtel confirms fifteen illegal immigrants arrested were working for Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals Construction Services. Bechtel is the prime contractor at Cheniere LNG at Sabine Pass.
The individuals taken into custody by authorities on May 4 were working for Bechtel, "under allegedly assumed identities based on fraudulently obtained legitimate social security numbers and matching birth certificates," said Iva Zagar, Manager of Communications for Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals of Houston.
Zagar said Bechtel has procedures in place to verify an applicant's eligibility to work in the U.S.
"Bechtel follows the I-9 process and utilizes E-Verify to determine an applicant's eligibility to work in the United States, We are fully cooperating with the authorities in this matter," said Zagar.
Federal officials say the 15 illegal immigrants were using names, social security numbers and matching birth certificates, primarily issued in Puerto Rico. They used that information to obtain ID cards from Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas and other states. They were hired by subcontractors who used hiring offices in Port Arthur, Texas.
"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," according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Texas. Some had previous encounters with immigration authorities.
Last week, a federal grand jury in Beaumont indicted the 15 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.
Federal and state agents made the arrests on the evening of Thursday, May 4. All 15 were identified after being arrested under their assumed names.
"Protecting critical infrastructure is a national security priority for law enforcement," Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said in a statement. "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."
Those arrested 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
- Arturo Rebollar-Osorio, 34, of Mexico