Processing Magazine

Current, former Smithfield illegal workers face ID theft charges

September 10, 2007

Nearly all of the illegal immigrants arrested during a raid in North Carolina were charged with identity theft in schemes to stay in the country under the names of American citizens, the Associated Press reports. Two of the victims suffered financial losses exceeding $10,000, and one person nearly lost subsidized housing because of increased income reported on the person''s Social Security number, said Assistant U.S. Attorney James Candelmo. The 25 immigrants who were arrested either worked or were former employees at the sprawling Smithfield Foods Inc. hog slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, a town about 80 miles south of Raleigh. They could face two-year prison sentences if convicted, federal prosecutors said. Smithfield employs about 5,000 workers and processed up to 32,000 hogs daily at the plant, which is the largest hog slaughterhouse in the world. The investigation began last year when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers reviewed Smithfield''s employment records to identify whether undocumented workers were employed at the plant, according to court documents. During an earlier raid in January, 21 plant employees were arrested on immigration charges, and authorities later found that 18 of them had assumed the name and Social Security number of other people. ICE agents asked the Federal Trade Commission to review identity theft complaints connected to 215 Social Security numbers used by Smithfield employees, leading to more arrests.