HPD: 11 possible illegal immigrants in custody after raid in the Heights

By Mark Boyle - Reporter

HOUSTON - Nearly a dozen employees were taken away in handcuffs and loaded into vans at the La Espiga De Oro tortilla factory in The Heights Tuesday because they are suspected of being part of an illegal hiring ring.

They will be questioned for hours about what happened behind the walls.

The raid happened just before noon Tuesday.

Investigators with Homeland Security and the Department of Labor say even though the people taken away may be in the country illegally, they are not the focus of the investigation.

Many are from Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Jenna Pineda's mom works at the shop and she rushed to the business when she found out her mom was being taken away in handcuffs.

"I can't really do anything. I'm probably just going to stay here for a while and wait. I'm worried," said Pineda.

The owners of the tortilla shop on 15th Street and Shepherd are under fire because investigators said they knew they were breaking federal labor laws by hiring undocumented workers.

"We find substandard conditions in places like this where illegal aliens are being hired, poor work conditions. A lot of times not up to code, individuals working long hours and not being paid salaries what we call normal for those living in the United States," said ICE spokesman Greg Palmore.

La Espiga de Oro Inc. released a statement that read, "On August 4, 2015, USCIS visited our factory to execute a search warrant to review our employment records. During the visit, we provided the government with the requested information. We have been a proud member of the Houston business community since 1977 and thank our loyal customers for their support. Our daily operations remain uninterrupted. We welcome the investigation and intend to fully cooperate."

Copyright 2015 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.