Steel firm owner jailed Illegal aliens had bogus SS numbers By MICHAEL NEWSOM email@example.com The owner of Tarrasco Steel, a company that supplied workers on the Biloxi Bay Bridge, was arrested and charged with hiring illegal immigrants on projects in three states. Some had improper welding certification. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Jose S. Gonzalez, 32, at his office in Greenville Thursday, according to a news release. Tarrasco Steel was hired as a subcontractor for rebar installation services to major bridge projects in Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee. The federal government considers those bridges as critical infrastructure, and they were part of routine inspections of facilities that if damaged could pose a threat to national security and public safety. "There is a serious public safety concern when illegal aliens, who are not authorized to work in the country legally, and who do not possess valid welding certifications, are employed in the construction of bridges in our communities," said Michael A. Holt, special agent in charge of the Customs Office of Investigations in New Orleans, in a news release. On inspections of several construction sites March 29, representatives of several federal agencies confirmed the majority of Tarrasco Steel employees were using bogus Social Security numbers, and 77 immigrants were arrested. Twenty-six of them worked for Tarrasco Steel. Some of them worked on the Biloxi bridge, the Huey P. Long bridge in New Orleans, and a project on Interstate 40 in Memphis, among others, the news release said. In April, nine Tarrasco employees caught in the March 29 operations were charged with fraudulent use of immigration documents and Social Security account numbers. Investigators served a search warrant at the Tarrasco office in Greenville and they got copies of payroll records. They allege Gonzalez falsified information on the I-9 Employee Eligibility forms. Investigators learned that several workers had inappropriate welding certifications. Several South Mississippi law enforcement agencies participated in the investigation, including the Harrison County Sheriff's Department, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Biloxi Police Department. Gonzalez was indicted on July 29 and $457,368 has been seized from Tarrasco accounts, the news release said.