By Dan Nienaber
The Free Press
A 46-year-old St. Peter man was sentenced to 3 years of probation Thursday for a federal charge of transporting illegal aliens.
Juan Arrazolo was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers after investigators learned he was harboring illegal aliens and using them to supply cheap labor large corporate chicken farms in Minnesota. In a plea agreement in August Arrazolo admitted that he had transported one man from Texas to Minnesota while knowing he was a citizen of Mexico. Conditions of his probation are that he serve six months of home confinement and pay a $2,000 fine.
That man and other workers recruited by Arrazolo's company, Poultry Service Management, loaded chickens for shipping, vaccinated chickens, trimmed chicken beaks and provided other labor requested by producers, a U.S. Department of Justice news release said.
The St. Peter Police Department, the Nicollet County Sheriff's Department, the Le Sueur County Sheriff's Department and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension assisted with the investigation.
"Those who transport or harbor illegal aliens require secrecy and often coercion to succeed," said Mike Feinberg, special agent in charge of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations field office in St. Paul. "ICE HSI has a long history of targeting criminals who seek illegal gain at the expense of the innocent. We work with our state and local law enforcement partners to bring justice to anyone who exploits others for illegal profit."
In sentencing documents filed last month, Arrazolo's attorney, Alberto Miera, pointed out that his client helped investigate the businesses using his business after he was caught. Arrazolo agreed to make recorded phone calls and wear a wire while discussing business with the companies that hired him as a subcontractor, Miera said.
"He is a small fish in a big pond where it is well known that virtually everyone doing this "poultry service management" is using undocumented workers," Miera said. "The companies have 'insulated' themselves by "subcontracting" this work of immunizing the birds, beak trimming, etc."
Miera also said Arrazolo was punished by losing his business. He tried to continue working with a smaller crew, but the companies cut him off. Arrazolo is currently trying to start a janitorial business.
"He has exhausted his savings and has to start over in terms of making a living," Miera said. "Juan simply has lost his ability to work in, and no longer will work in, the 'poultry service' industry or anything similar to it."
Federal Court documents that have been made public do not identify which businesses had contracts with Arrazolo. Those businesses also aren't identified in news releases about Arrazolo's charges and plea from the U.S. Attorney's Office and ICE.