HOUSTON, Texas – The owners of a Houston tortilla factory have been arrested and face federal charges of hiring illegal immigrants to work in their facility.
Federal agents arrested Alfredo Sosa Lira and Lydia Botello Lira, husband and wife owners of La Espiga de Oro tortilla factory, on charges that they “knowingly and repeatedly” hired immigrants who did not have permits to legally work in the United States, the Houston Chronicle reported on Thursday. The couple have owned the tortilla factory, located in the Heights area, since 1977.
Breitbart Texas reported in August 2015 that federal agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) raided the couple’s business. They detained eleven possibly illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico following the raid.
Authorities also arrested the daughter of the couple. She worked as the office manager for the company. The night manager, Roberto Guerra, was also taken into custody.
The company, which employees about 100 people, supplies tortillas to restaurants in Texas, Louisiana, and Colorado.
Even before the 2015 raid, HSI investigators looked into the company, the Houston Chronicle reported. Court records claim the four people arrested acted as part of a conspiracy to harbor people illegally in the U.S. and that they continued to hire them.
Informants for the government posed as “unauthorized aliens,” the Houston Chronicle stated. They were hired and worked in both administrative and production areas of the company. The investigation is reported to have been ongoing since 2008, but no indication has been given as to why it took so long to bring charges in the case.
The informants allegedly made recordings of the owners and managers discussing how to get around the immigration laws. They are said to have discussed using fraudulent documents such as fake Social Security cards.
Some of the people detained in the 2015 raid are said to have admitted that company managers helped them obtain fake documents.
Lydia Lira reportedly admitted to knowing that more than 50 percent of the company’s 100 employees were not legal to work in this country.
The owners and managers are expected to appear on Monday in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter@BobPriceBBTX.