U.S. immigration agents arrested 114 people at an Ohio landscaping company on Tuesday, in one of the largest such stings in recent years.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency spokesman Khaalid Walls, ICE arrested the people at two locations of Corso’s Flower & Garden Center - one in Sandusky and the other in Castalia. Walls says the agency expects criminal charges, including tax evasion and identity theft.
No criminal charges have been filed against Corso’s, but the company is under investigation. Agents seized a large volume of business documents from the employer, Walls says.
According to the Associated Press, "Tuesday's operation was rehearsed and carried out with quiet efficiency. At the sprawling Castalia location — covered with trees, flowers and greenhouse tarps — no workers were seen running as about 100 law enforcement workers from a variety of agencies established a perimeter. A voice on a radio called attention to specific employees who might try to flee, but none did."
The sting is a part of the Trump administration’s focus on employers, which was enforced about a year after the president took office.
ICE's investigation into Corso's began in October 2017. The U.S. Border Patrol arrested a woman who gave stolen identity documents to job applications who were in the country illegally, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit head Steve Francis.
ICE ended up learning some of the documents contained Social Security numbers of dead people. Of the 313 employees whose records were investigated, 123 were determined to be suspicious and targeted for arrest.
Between October 1 and May 4, there were 2,282 employer audits opened. That's a nearly 60 percent jump from October 2016 through Sept. 2017, during which there were 1,360 audits opened.