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Federal agents arrest 12 men in Brownsboro

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By Jacquelyn Stoess Hack

A helicopter buzzed over Brownsboro Monday morning as U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials executed a criminal search warrant at a landscaping business where agents took 12 Mexican men into custody.

A spokesperson for the agency said officials targeted Dean Hedges Landscape Specialists, also known as Exterior Designs and Performance Irrigation, located at 7606 Ky. 329 in Brownsboro.

Hedges did not respond to messages left at his home, business and on his mobile phone Monday and Tuesday.

Gail Montenegro, a spokesperson for ICE, said the men in custody are housed in a Grayson County jail.

She said she could not release names of the men arrested or comment on possible charges for their employer, according to ICE policy.

The search warrant is the result of an ongoing investigation that began a year ago, Montenegro said.

Montenegro said ICE officials are targeting unscrupulous employers of illegal aliens, seeking to initiate criminal prosecutions and cause asset forfeitures. Monday's targeted enforcement is still under investigation, she said.

Tony Jeffries, a resident of Old Zaring Road, said he awoke to the sound of a helicopter flying over his home just before 7 a.m. Monday.

Jeffries said he initially suspected there may have been a crash on Interstate 71 that required a medical helicopter, but when he realized the helicopter was circling his property, he went outside to find out why.

That's when Jeffries saw agents with guns drawn running across his front yard and his mothers back yard along a creek.

"I walked outside on my front deck and I thought, I probably don't need to be out here, he said.

Jeffries said he also saw agents in his neighbor's field and lined up on Old Zaring Road.

As a helicopter hovered above a wooded area near his home, Jeffries said agents took off running toward the woods while holding radios to their ears. Jeffries said at the time he was unsure what the agents were doing.

Old Zaring Road was closed nearly two hours.

On July 26, a truck owned by Performance Irrigation was involved in a single-vehicle rollover crash on Interstate 71.

The driver, Jose Romero Ramos, 30, was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to police reports, three passengers – Daniel Ortega, Jesus Sanchez and Flavio Jarquin –were ejected from the vehicle.

The three men, all 22 years old, were transported by helicopter to University Hospital in Louisville. According to hospital records, they spent several days in the hospital's intensive care unit.

When asked if the men involved in the crash are part of the ICE investigation, Montenegro said she could not comment.

E-mail us about this story at:

jstoess@oldhamera.com.