KETR

ICE Raids Trailer Manufacturing Company in Lamar County

Aug 28, 2018

More than 100 people were arrested Tuesday at Load Trail, a vehicle trailer company in the unincorporated Lamar County community of Sumner, about 15 miles west of Paris.

Officials with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit executed criminal search warrants at the assembly plant during the late morning hours of Aug. 28.

“We were just working, like normal day and everything,” Oscar Ramirez, a Commerce man who works as a welder at load trail, said. “And then all of a sudden the police came in and they started telling everybody to go to one side, go to one side.”

Witnesses have described to multiple news outlets how armed agents reviewed workers’ documentation. Those with satisfactory identification were given green wristbands and allowed to leave. Those without were detained and taken away by ICE agents.

Load Trail employs about 500 people, according to the company’s website. The Sumner facility, the company’s only location, makes trailers for personal and light commercial vehicles. Company representatives could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Dallas Morning News reports this isn’t the first time Load Trail has been in trouble for its employment practices. In 2014, the company was fined $445,000 as penalty for employing undocumented workers. ICE has not said where detainees were taken on Tuesday. The agency’s website lists a telephone hotline (888-351-4024) for people seeking information about family members.

Katrina Berger, a special agent in ICE’s Dallas office, told the Dallas Morning News that many of those arrested who do not have a criminal record will likely be released with a court date set for a hearing with an immigration judge.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Cornelio Thiessen, 48, is listed in Load Trail’s corporate records as president and secretary of the company. Berger told the newspaper that the owners of the business could face indictment on federal criminal charges if they knowingly hired undocumented workers.

Texas Department of Public Safety officers assisted agents from ICE, the U.S. Border Patrol and various other federal officials with the enforcement action.

KETR's Scott Morgan contributed to this report.