Sunday, January 14, 2007

13 illegal immigrants arrested after SUV crashes on icy Pa. road

1/13/2007, 2:43 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

POTTSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Thirteen illegal immigrants were arrested after the van they were riding in hit an ice patch, flipped over and crashed into a guardrail, police said.

The 10 men and three women were heading north on Route 309 on their way to work when the driver lost control shortly before 8 a.m. Friday. Two were treated for minor injuries.

After the crash, the group was taken to the Rush Township police station and then transported to Philadelphia by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to face deportation charges, police Chief Robert Romanick said.

Police arrested Victor Fernandez, 18; Gregorio Palomino, 27; David Palomino, 21; Lazaro Palomino, 19; Jose Palomino, 36; Jose Palomino, 25; Wenceslado Solomo, 33; Lenin Robledo, 30; Obed Palomino, 18; Evalia Alfonso, 41; Maricela Saucedo, 29; Francisca Lucho, 31; and Jorge Colindres, 22.

All are either from the city of Reading or the Reading area in Berks County, Romanick said.

Fernandez was driving from Berks County to a grower in northern Schuylkill County, where the group worked, police said.

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More info:

13 from city held as illegal aliens

Federal agents take the workers to Philadelphia for questioning and deportation proceedings after their van overturns in Rush Township, Schuylkill County.

Thirteen people from Reading suspected of being illegal immigrants face deportation to Mexico after a van taking them to work crashed in northeastern Schuylkill County, police said Saturday.

The temporary laborers were northbound on Route 309 in Rush Township shortly before 8 a.m. Friday when the driver, Victor Manuel Matto-Fernandez, 18, lost control on an icy stretch of road. The van rolled onto its side and hit a guide rail, police said.

All 13 workers 10 men and three women were employed by a food grower in northern Schuylkill, police said. Police withheld the name of the company.

The group was taken to the Rush Township Police Department for questioning because none had any form of identification or work authorization, officials said.

The township does not have any Spanish-speaking officers, and of those being held, only one could speak English, police said.

The 13 were held for about five hours before Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents took them to Philadelphia for questioning and deportation proceedings, officials said.

Police did not have addresses for any of the detainees.

In addition to Matto-Fernandez, immigration officials are detaining:

Gregorio Cortaza-Palomino, 27; David Cortaza-Palomino, 21; Lazaro Cortaza-Palomino, 19; Jose Palomino-Juarez, 36; Jose Royes-Palomino, 36; Wenceslado Solomo, 33; Lenin Robledo, 30; Obed Negron-Palomino, 18; Evalia Alfonso, 41; Maricela Saucedo, 29; Francisca Lucho, 31; and Jorge Colindres, 22.

Police said all 13 had gained employment through a temporary labor agency in Philadelphia called Merlot Management Inc. Information on the agency could not be found Saturday.

Both the grower and the employment agency are being investigated.

Police said Lucho and Alfonso were treated for minor injuries suffered in the accident. Nobody else was injured.

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