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Immigration raid at packing plant leads to 97 arrestsImmigration raid at packing plant leads to 97 arrests

Affidavit alleges company evaded taxes, filed false tax returns and hired undocumented workers.

Krissa Welshans 1

April 9, 2018

1 Min Read
Immigration raid at packing plant leads to 97 arrests

A joint operation of the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Tennessee Highway Patrol led to the arrest of 97 people late last week during a raid conducted at Southeastern Provision, a meat processing facility in Bean Station, Tenn.

The arrests were made as part of an ongoing investigation alleging that the owners paid cash to undocumented workers over a three-year period to avoid paying $2.5 million in payroll taxes.

Tammy Spicer, a spokeswoman for ICE, told the Washington Post that 10 people were arrested on federal immigration charges, one person was arrested on state charges and 86 immigrants were detained for being in the country illegally. All of the individuals arrested were suspected of being in the country illegally, she said.

According to several news reports, the initial investigation was launched after authorities received information from a bank whose employees noticed that Southeastern Provision was withdrawing a large sum of cash every week. The company is believed to have withdrawn more than $25 million since 2008.

A federal affidavit, filed by IRS special agent Nicholas Worsham, said the plant is under criminal investigation for allegedly evading taxes, filing false tax returns and hiring undocumented workers illegally. The affidavit states that the company failed to report a total of $8.4 million in wages and pay at least $2.5 million in payroll taxes. Additionally, it said an investigation by an undercover police officer revealed that workers were paid in cash and subject to harsh conditions.

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