680 “Removable Aliens” Nabbed In ICE Raid On Poultry Plants

Options for raiding poultry producer were many; here is where the feds went

By Dan Flynn on Aug 9, 2019

| Food Safety News – The fifth and ninth-largest poultry producers and three smaller operators were targets this week of one of the most massive worksite immigration raids in Mississippi history.

Mississippi has 63 meat and poultry plants, according to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The state is No. 1 in catfish production and No. 5 in poultry production.

The seven Mississippi poultry plants raided Aug. 7 by agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security targeted five companies in six Mississippi towns.

In the raids, agents detained approximately 680 “removable aliens” on the authority of federal criminal warrants.

The federal government only said the raids involved “seven agricultural processing plants across Mississippi Wednesday morning as part of an ongoing HSI worksite enforcement criminal investigation.” That left local media scrambling throughout the day to nail down all the locations involved.

The raids were entirely aimed at poultry workers employed by the five companies.

Peco Foods

Peco Foods is the ninth-largest poultry producer in the U.S. It operates across three southern states from corporate offices in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Peco’s national chicken production has reached almost 27 million pounds.

Peco processing facilities raided in Mississippi included Bay Springs, Canton, and Sebastopol.

Koch Foods

Park Ridge, IL-based Koch Foods is a nationally known poultry processor with production facilities in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee.

Koch Foods steady production makes it the nation’s 5th largest poultry producer.

Koch Foods is an independent, privately held company that specializes in the processing of poultry. In no way is Koch Foods affiliated with the Koch brothers, Koch Industries, Koch Companies or any other organization that uses the Koch name.

Koch was one of two poultry processing facilities at Morton, MS, that were targets of the raid.

P H Foods

The other Morton business raided was P H Food, Inc. located at 4013 Highway 80. Another business, Mississippi Poultry, is located at the same address. It is a small business with an associated common carrier with 3 drivers.

Pearl River Foods

Just under 2-years old, the Carthage-based company got started in 2017. The Mississippi Development Authority made $1.5 million in federal community development money available to improve a Leake County building that in turn was leased to Pearl River Foods.

The county kicked in $170,000 for infrastructure improvements.

Pearl River Foods is a wholesale company, buying chicken, and processing it into breasts and tenders for sale to others. It expected to employ 150. The Carthage business was one of the seven sites raided by federal agents on Aug 7.

MP Food Inc.

M P Food Inc is a privately held company in Pelahatchie, MS.

The poultry processing company shows an annual revenue of $5 to $10 million with a staff of approximately 10 to 19. The MP facility in Pelahatichie was a raid target.

Koch Foods officials said the company is cooperating with the government’s ongoing investigation. Koch claims it is “diligent about its compliance with state and federal employment eligibility laws including being an early adopter of the government’s own E-Verify program which screens new hires through the Social Security Administration, as well as the Department of Homeland Security to ensure they are compliant.”

Before the raid, Koch employed more than 1,000 at Morton. Koch said it was trying to determine how many of its employees were detained.

In a statement, Peco Foods also said it was cooperating with the federal authorities.

(Repblished with permission of Food Safety News. To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)