DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER, 19, 2001
CR (202) 616-2777
TDD (202) 514-1888
INS INVESTIGATION OF TYSON FOODS, INC. LEADS TO 36 COUNT INDICTMENT FOR CONSPIRACY TO SMUGGLE ILLEGAL ALIENS FOR CORPORATE PROFIT
WASHINGTON, D.C. - - Michael Chertoff, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division announced today that a federal grand jury in Chattanooga, Tennessee returned a thirty-six count indictment against executives and managers of Tyson Foods, Inc., the world's largest producer, processor, and marketer of poultry-based food products, for conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens to Tyson Foods processing facilities in the United States for profit.
"The Department of Justice is committed to vigorously investigating and prosecuting companies or individuals who exploit immigrants and violate our nation's immigration laws," said Chertoff. "The bottom line on the corporate balance sheet is no excuse for criminal conduct."
The thirty-six count indictment unsealed today in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, is the result of a two-and-one-half year undercover investigation conducted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) into the business practices of Tyson Foods. Tyson Foods executives and managers are accused in the indictment of conspiring to import and transport illegal alien workers from the Southwest border to Tyson plants throughout the United States. Fifteen Tyson Foods plants in nine states have been implicated in this conspiracy to defraud the United States government.
"This case represents the first time INS has taken action against a company of Tyson's magnitude," said INS Commissioner James Ziglar. "INS means business and companies, regardless of size, are on notice that INS is committed to enforcing compliance with immigration laws and protecting America's workforce."
According to the indictment, Tyson Foods cultivated a corporate culture in which the hiring of illegal alien workers was condoned in order to meet production goals and cut costs to maximize profits. The indictment describes a scheme by which the defendants requested delivery of illegal aliens to work at Tyson plants in the United States and aided and abetted them in obtaining false documents so they could work at Tyson poultry processing plants "under the false pretense of being legally employable."
In addition to charging Tyson Foods Inc., the indictment includes two corporate executives, Robert Hash, Vice President, Retail Fresh Division and Gerald Lankford, former Human Resources Manager, Retail Fresh. Also indicted are four former managers Keith Snyder, Complex Manager, Noel, Missouri; Truley Ponder, former Complex Manager, Shelbyville, Tennessee; Spencer Mabe, former Plant Manager, Shelbyville, Tennessee; and Jimmy Rowland, former Complex Personnel Manager, Shelbyville, Tennessee.
The United States Attorneys Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration, the Bedford County Tennessee Sheriff's Department, the Shelbyville Tennessee Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol participated in this INS investigation.