As of approximately 3 pm CDT, at least 300…
At least 300 people were arrested today at the Agriprocessors, Inc. meat packing plant, federal officials said.
The operation, which targeted people who illegally used other persons Social Security numbers and were in the U.S. illegally, was the largest of its kind in Iowa, said Claude Arnold, a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The workers arrested so far were interviewed by agents with the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Public Health Service. Public health officials were included to ensure that their humanitarian needs were being met, said U.S. District Attorney Matt M. Dummermuth.
Authorities have released 40 of the arrested employees “on humanitarian grounds” with supervision, pending further proceedings, Dummermuth said.
A total of 16 local, state and federal agencies, led by ICE, joined the investigation that began last October. Among them was the U.S. Marshals Service, the Iowa Department of Public Safety, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, the Waterloo Police Department and the Postville Police Department.
Agents with ICE have received information about immigration violations at the plant over the past two years, according to a federal search warrant made public today. Authorities said they will release more details at another press conference tomorrow morning in Cedar Rapids.
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.…
Immigration officials told aides to U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley that they expect 600 to 700 arrests. About 1,000 to 1,050 people work at the plant, according to Iowa Workforce Development.…