WASHINGTON, D.C- Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and theFederal Bureau Investigation (FBI) have disrupted the largest illegal aliensmuggling ring involving a commercial bus company announced Attorney General John Ashcroft .The joint investigation conducted by the INS and FBI has led to the indictment of the principal officers of Golden StateTransportation, a Los Angeles-based regional bus company, and more than 30 company employees, and one of the largest asset forfeiture involving alien smuggling.
The indictments unsealed in U.S. District Court in Tucson, Arizona allege that Golden State Transportation conspired with migrant smugglers to move hundreds of undocumented immigrants every month from the southwest border to destinations nationwide. The two-year probe, initiated by the Tucson Border Patrol Sector, included an investigation of Golden State Transportation’s operations in Arizona, California and Colorado.
“Migrant smuggling circumvents the legal immigration process for profit,” said Attorney General John Ashcroft. “I have seen first hand the life threatening and oppressive conditions that confront people trying to cross the border illegally. Today’s indictment underscores our commitment to prosecute migrant smugglers, seek forfeiture of their illegal profits, and
put them out of business.”
The indictment alleges that Golden State Transportation generated a substantial amount of its annual revenue by transporting undocumented immigrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to cities in the nation’s interior, primarily Los Angeles, Denver, and Yakima, Washington. In addition, the indictment describes how Golden State Transportation routinely permitted migrant smugglers to purchase large blocks of tickets in advance and scheduled bus departures and arrivals late at night to prevent detection by law enforcement.
The Golden State Transportation employees charged initially in this case represent corporate officers and senior management in the company’s corporate structure. Incorporated in 1989, Golden State transportation offers service to several southwestern states as well as Mexico. In addition, the company operates bus terminals in a number of major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Denver, El Paso, Albuquerque, Tucson, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
“This case reaffirms our commitment to disrupt migrant smuggling on all fronts, from the border to the boardroom,” said INS Commissioner James Ziglar. “The United States Attorney’s Office will vigorously prosecute those who smuggle illegal aliens into the United States or harbor or transport them,” said Paul Charlton, United States Attorney for the District of Arizona.
INS and Border Patrol agents made arrests in seven states and executed nearly 20 search warrants during the last two days. The actions took place in Los Angeles, Fresno, Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and Denver.
The United States Attorney’s Office in Tucson has obtained a restraining order prohibiting Golden State Transportation from disposing of its assets, such as buses and terminals. The restraining order allows Golden State Transportation to continue its lawful operations while the investigation is ongoing. Beyond that, authorities are seeking to seize and forfeit Golden
State Transportation assets associated with illegal activity, including vehicles, real estate, and bank accounts.