DeKalb blacksmith arraigned in immigration case

April 24, 2019

ROCKFORD – A DeKalb resident and owner of Cortland-based Alfredo’s Iron Works pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 14 federal charges related to smuggling, transporting and harboring undocumented immigrants.

Luis Alfredo De La Cruz, 49, entered the not guilty plea during his arraignment in Rockford federal court. He was indicted April 16 by a federal grand jury in Rockford, accused of smuggling and transporting two undocumented immigrants and harboring eight undocumented immigrants. He is accused of harboring the eight people at his business, Alfredo’s Iron Works, 280 W. Lincoln Highway in Cortland, by employing them there. Alfredo’s Iron Works was raided by federal immigration services June 1, during which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials removed eight employees from the plant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Pedersen is prosecuting the case at the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois in Rockford, with U.S. Magistrate Judge Iain Johnston presiding. De La Cruz was in attendance with his wife, along with his lawyer, Isuf Kola, senior attorney at Glen Ellyn-based Kola & Associates law office.

Kola declined to comment to the Daily Chronicle on behalf of De La Cruz after the arraignment.

Pedersen and Kola asked the judge for time to review what Pedersen said are 3,300 pages of documents and digital correspondence, seized during a search of Alfredo’s Iron Works, that purport to show De La Cruz knowingly smuggled individuals across the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Relevant information is contained in those 3,000 pages,” Pedersen said, as he told the judge his team needed to still scan almost 1,000 more pages.

Pedersen said electronic documents, agency reports, and records seized during a warrant search of the Cortland plant include recorded telephone calls between De La Cruz and an individual. The calls reveal De La Cruz made an upfront payment to someone for a person to be smuggled across the border, picked up and driven to Cortland, Pedersen said. The phone calls show De La Cruz made arrangements for the money to be paid back to him by that person, Pedersen said.

“That’s a lot of material,” Judge Johnston said.

Pedersen said the documents will be given to the court by May 7, and Kola was granted additional time to review before a second court date set for July 23 at 11 a.m. in Rockford.

After entering his plea, De La Cruz was ordered to pay a $5,000 cash bond by May 13, surrender his passport and remain within the geographical area of the Northern District of Illinois, surrender his Firearm Owner Identification card, and refrain from making contact with anyone involved in the case. He will not be held in pretrial detention.

“If you violate these conditions, then your release may be revoked,” Judge Johnston warned De La Cruz.

De La Cruz also was granted a protective order by the judge.