A helicopter hovered over the scene in Postville, Iowa as the large meat packing plant, Agriprocessors, Inc, and hundreds of agents raided the plant, which is known as the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse and is northeast Iowa’s largest employer.
Reports are coming out that anywhere from 300 to 700 have been arrested at a raid of the Agriprocessors Inc., in Iowa, which is the nation's largest kosher meatpacking plant.
According to the U.S Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) website, 300 people have been arrested so far after ICE agents executed a criminal search warrant earlier today at Agriprocessors, Inc., in Postville, Iowa.
The warrant was for evidence "relating to aggravated identity theft, fraudulent use of Social Security numbers and other crimes, as well as a civil search warrant for people illegally in the United States."
The United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, Matt M. Dummermuth, "This is not the first time this office has been a part of a criminal worksite enforcement operation. However, this is the largest operation of its type ever in Iowa. Agents and officers from federal, state, and local agencies are involved today. The coordination and logistical planning efforts have been going on for months."
USA Today is reporting that officials told aides to Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, that they expect 600 to 700 arrests out of about 1,000 to 1,050 people that work at the plant.
So far, after the initial interviews, 40 people were released on "humanitarian grounds", (health, caregiver, or other humanitarian concerns) to be under supervision pending further immigration proceedings.
This was a massive, coordinated action on the part of ICE and the DOJ, wo which a number of official offices were involoved, including the United States Marshals Service; United States Postal Inspections Service; Iowa Department of Public Safety; Iowa Department of Transportation; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Federal Protective Service; Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations; United States Department of Labor; Public Health Service; United States Department of Agriculture; United States Environmental Protection Agency; Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Drug Enforcement Administration; Waterloo Police Department; and the Postville Police Department.
The DeMoines Register report that according to the affidavit, “Based on information thus far developed in the investigation, it appears, based on 2007 fourth quarter payroll reports, that approximately 76 percent of the 968 employees of Agriprocessors were using false or fraudulent social security numbers in connection with their employment.”
According to search warrants, ICE agents interviewed a former plant supervisor – identified as “Source 1” – in November 2007, who told them that the plant employed foreign nationals from Mexico, Guatemala and Eastern Europe. Roughly 80 percent of those workers were living illegally in the U.S., the supervisor said.
“Source 1” told federal agents that some employees were running a methamphetamine lab in the plant, and were bringing weapons to work. The supervisor confronted a higher-level manager about the drugs, and shortly after was fired.
The supervisors also described an encounter with the plant’s human resources manager about three separate Social Security cards from different employees with the same number. The human resources manager "laughed when this matter was brought to her attention," the supervisor told federal agents.
The article quotes different sources such as "Source 7" and "Source 11", which were all contained in the warrant which allowed for this massive raid.
Not only were the illegal activities happening on the part of the illegal aliens, but there were also reports of abuses to the workers, such as a description from "Source 7", which has worked with immigration officials on other cases, where this source told authorities that a floor supervisor duct-taped the eyes of an illegal Guatemalan employee and struck him with a meat hook.
The men apprehended today initially will be held in housing established for their detention at Estel Hall, in Waterloo, Iowa
Women initially will be held at local county jails.
CE has established a toll-free number that family members can call to obtain information about the custody status and detention location of those detained today. That number is 866-341-3858.
This latest raid is the latest in large, coordinated, raids on illegal aliens working at food plants.
In December of 2006, Federal agents raided six Swift & Co. processing plants in six states, arresting more than 1,200 people.
In August of 2007, it was Koch Foods in Fairfield, Ohio where over 160 people were arrested.
April 2008, Pilgrim's Pride Poultry Plants in multiple states were raided and over 100 people were expected to be arrested.