Michigan, local police get $300,000 from dairy farm worker raid

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) presented the Michigan State Police (MSP) and Huron County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) with nearly $300,000 obtained from an investigation and prosecution of a Michigan dairy farm for employing illigal immigrants.

The funds constitute a portion of the money obtained when the owners and the business itself, Aquila Farms LLC, were ordered to pay fines and payments in lieu of forfeiture of more than $2.7 million. The funds were distributed in accordance with HSI's asset-forfeiture program that applies to assets obtained as proceeds or instrumentalities of criminal activity. MSP and HCSO received ceremonial checks in the amounts of $250,652.09 and $35,807.44, respectively in a ceremony at MSP's Caro post. Both agencies have already received payments.

The case first made headlines in May 2007 when HSI special agents executed search warrants at the farm as part of the investigation that resulted in the administrative arrests of dozens of illegal aliens.

MSP's involvement began in early 2007, when they provided the lead to HSI Detroit of suspected illegal activity at the farm. After HSI initiated an investigation, MSP and the sheriff's office assisted in executing federal search and arrest warrants at the business owners' home and at the farm on three separate occasions.

The owners were sentenced Nov. 8, 2011, to three years of probation and ordered to pay fines totaling $234,000 after pleading guilty to hiring illegal aliens and aiding and abetting each other to do so.

The company also pleaded guilty to harboring illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain. For this offense, the company was sentenced to probation for five years, ordered to pay a fine of $500,000, and required to make payments totaling $2 million in lieu of forfeiture.

The investigation revealed that the Bad Axe, Mich., dairy operation employed 78 different illegal aliens from approximately 2000 through 2007, which constituted almost 75% of its workforce over that time period. The company also failed to conduct the necessary inquiries to determine the employment eligibility of their work force, as required by federal immigration laws. Read more.