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Over 140 Arrested In ICE Raid At Ohio Meatpacking Plant

Immigration arrest at a garden center in Ohio.
John Minchillo
Associated Press

U.S. immigration agents have arrested 146 workers at an Ohio meat packing plant, the second large-scale raid in the state within the past two weeks.

Immigration officials say the arrests on Tuesday came after a year-long investigation into whether the company knowingly hired people who are in the country illegally. The agency said it was also looking into whether many of the workers were using fraudulent identification belonging to U.S. citizens.

The arrests happened at Fresh Mark's meat processing plant in Salem in northeastern Ohio.

ICE officials said the number of arrests is expected to climb as the investigation continues. Those arrested would be taken to detention centers in Michigan and Ohio, while some might be deported immediately.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it also carried out search warrants at the company's three other locations in Canton and Massillon.

The arrests come as the U.S. government steps up its focus on businesses that hire people in the country illegally as part of a broad range of immigration crackdowns under President Trump.

Most of the workers detained were from Guatemala, said Khaalid Walls, an ICE spokesperson.

A message seeking comment was left with the company Wednesday.

No criminal charges have been filed against Fresh Mark, but authorities say the investigation is ongoing. The company makes bacon, hot dogs, ham and lunch meat for the Sugardale and Superior's brands.

Fresh Mark is a member of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's self-policing program that's described as a way for employers to verify workers are in the country legally and to spot fraudulent documents, the agency said.

Members of the program aren't immune from prosecution for workforce compliance violations, the agency added.

"Unlawful employment is one of the key magnets drawing illegal aliens across our borders," said Steve Francis, head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations unit in Detroit.

Two weeks ago, immigration agents arrested 114 people at a landscaping center in Sandusky. Authorities say they plan to charge workers for crimes including identity theft and tax evasion.