A large federal law enforcement operation targeted businesses in Nebraska and Minnesota Tuesday. The raid was unusual in scope because it targeted not only the illegal immigrants working in businesses, but also a company that officials say knowingly hired – and mistreated – immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.
The investigative arm of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement led the operation that saw 14 business owners and managers and 130 workers arrested. Most of the arrests were in northern Nebraska, in the O’Neill area, and in southern Minnesota.
Homeland Security Investigations special agent in charge Tracy Cormier described the operation as one of the largest in its 15-year history.
Cormier said the focus of the operation is a business that knowingly offered for hire immigrants in the country illegally and then furnished or referred them to other businesses, including farms, meat processors, grain companies and restaurants. Cormier says owners and operators of those businesses that hired the immigrants also were targeted for arrest.
In O’Neill, Federal Agents and State Troopers surrounded a tomato growing greenhouse and a potato processing plant at 8:45 A.M Tuesday. 60 employees from the greenhouse were loaded into large buses with “Homeland Security” on their sides. Also Tuesday morning the agents raided a branch of Great Western Bank in downtown O’Neill, arresting one female, as well as two Mexican Restaurants, two Mexican grocery stores, removing people from several private residences, then hitting a large feedlot between Bartlett and O’Neill.