A group of homeless men, four of them identified as undocumented, “illegal” immigrants from Mexico and Central America, were arrested on the day after Veteran’s Day squatting in the vacant home of a career soldier who was on a deployment out of state, police in Englewood, New Jersey, said last week.
But this story might have been a poignant one, except for the apparently outrageous and criminal behavior of the five men who it seems were looking for something other than just a warm place to lay their heads.
Instead, according to police statements, the men used the soldier’s home on an otherwise quite street in Englewood — just one block from the town’s Soldiers Monument — as a party house which they made no effort to clean up, letting the home sink into utter squalor, according to a report in the Bergen Record newspaper via its NorthJersey.com online site.
“During the arrests, the officers observed that the conditions in the home were deplorable throughout… There was evidence of partying, along with urine and feces everywhere.”
But the group’s offenses were even worse than a disgusting lack of hygiene. According to police, at least one of the men — the youngest of the squatters, 18-year-old Carlos Rosales-Campos — used the home as a base to conduct a crime spree throughout the area, robbing and burglarizing local businesses.
In one incident, police charge, Rosales-Campos (pictured at the top of this page) entered the Jackson Hole Diner on Grand Avenues at closing time and proceeded to threaten the restaurant’s manager, pressing a gun to the man’s head as he demanded the cash from the diner’s register, according to a separate report by the NJ.com news site.
Police say that Rosales-Campos is a native of El Salvador, who is in the United States without proper documentation. The alleged armed robbery netted him about $1,000 in cash, Englewood police said.
The armed robbery arrest led police to the home, which is reportedly owned by 59-year-old soldier Myrna Myers and her husband, James Myers, who due to the woman’s military service have not occupied the home for sometime, according to the Record report.
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When they arrived there, they found the bushes in the front yard so unkempt that they blocked pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk. Empty alcohol containers, moldy newspapers, stray articles of clothing, and unopened mail littered the front porch and yard.
They also found four older men, all reportedly homeless, living in the home, clearly without permission from the owners.
The other men were identified as Rosalio Valencia-Hernandez, 49; Rene Contreras-Ixtla, 39; Evaristo Chavez, 34; and Oswaldo Meneses-Arango, 47.
Meneses-Arango is a legal, permanent resident of the United States, originally from Colombia. The other three men are natives of Mexico who are in the country illegally, a separate NJ.com report stated.
Chavez, however, does have a legal address in Teaneck, New Jersey. The other four squatters in the Myers home have no permanent addresses.
In addition to the armed robbery of Jackson Hole Diner, police say that Rosales-Campos was involved in five other burglaries in October and late September.
Most recently, on October 29, police say that the teen stole about $500 worth of apparel from the Englewood Athletics clothing shop — and he also took the cash register with about $100 inside.
His other alleged targets included a bakery, a dry cleaner, two other restaurants — and the Jackson Hole Diner once again.
While the other four men were charged with criminal trespassing and held on $2,500 bond each, Rosales-Campos was slapped with numerous more serious charges, including armed robbery, theft, use of phony identification and illegal possession of a weapon.
Reached for comment by the Record newspaper, the owners of the home offered no comment on the illegal immigrants allegedly caught squatting in their home.
[All Photos via Englewood, New Jersey, Police Department]