SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake attorney who allegedly fled the country after being indicted for illegal immigrant smuggling was taken into custody as he attempted to re-enter the United States.
Federal agents arrested James Hector Alcala, 44, on Christmas Day at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego. A fugitive arrest warrant was issued for Alcala after he violated conditions of his pretrial release in Utah and left the country in December 2010, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah.
Alcala appeared in federal court in California on Dec. 26 and waived his deportation hearing. He will be returned to Utah in the next few weeks. The Utah State Bar suspended his law license in September 2011.
Alcala and seven other people, as well as the Alcala Law Firm and Westside Property Management, were charged in a 2009 federal indictment with conspiracy to commit alien smuggling; encouraging and inducing illegal aliens to come to, enter, or remain in the United States; and visa fraud.
The law firm, which advertised itself specifically as an immigration law office, was accused of illegally obtaining H-2B work visas for various Utah companies in order to gain a profit. Among other things, investigators allege that the firm encouraged Mexican laborers to return to Mexico and lie about their planned employment and time in the United States to obtain more visas than were necessary to build up a visa "pool."
Two individuals and Westside Property Management pleaded guilty to charges stemming from their involvement in the case and await sentencing.
Federal prosecutors dismissed charges against two men, while arrest warrants remain in place for two Mexican nationals and another man who fled after his initial court appearance in New York, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.