Former BP officer Ricardo Gonzalez, 39, his wife, Natalia Gonzalez, 35, and Alex Lopez, 33, were arrested on Nov. 17 and charged for their roles in a conspiracy to hire illegal aliens by fraudulently obtaining immigration permits, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. A federal grand jury returned the three-count indictment Nov. 15.
According to the charges, the three conspirators were responsible for the day-to-day operations of Gonmor Inc., a commercial trucking company located in Laredo, Texas. Gonmor, according to SAFER, has 38 drivers operating 27 power units and haul general freight.
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Beginning in Feb. of 2017, the federal indictment alleges the group recruited and then hired undocumented individuals to work as commercial truck drivers and paid them less due to their citizenship status. They were allegedly aware that the people they hired were not legally allowed to work in the United States.
The conspirators allegedly prepared paperwork so the individuals could obtain an I-94 permit which allows a visitor to travel farther than 25 miles from the border and remain in the United States for more than 30 days. Applicants must present another permit/visa such as a border crossing card in order to obtain an I-94 and are not eligible to work in the United States by law, according to the charges.
Paperwork allegedly included a letter from a fictious Mexican trucking company and stated the undocumented individual was employed by the company as a truck driver. According to the indictment, the letter further requested that the person receive an I-94 permit so that he could travel into the United States.
The group allegedly instructed individuals to present the letter to authorities at a port of entry in Laredo to apply for the permit. When the individual received the permit, the co-conspirators purportedly assigned jobs to the new employee to transport legitimate cargo throughout the United States.
Gonzalez is a former Customs and Border Patrol agent and allegedly utilized his knowledge, training and experience to facilitate the employment of undocumented individuals and obtaining the I-94 permits.
If convicted, each faces up to five years for the “conspiracy to fraudulently obtain immigration permits” and up to 10 years each for the “conspiracy to encourage or induce an alien to remain in the United States” and “conspiracy to harbor/shield an alien from detection.”