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More illegal farms employees arrested

Federal probe of immigration crimes continues

By Franco Ordoez and Kerry Hall - McClatchy Newspapers

GREENVILLE -- Federal agents have arrested five additional House of Raeford Farms employees and continue to search for others as part of their investigation into alleged immigration violations at the company’s poultry plant here.

On Wednesday, Victor Cruz-Soto, Daniel Badillo-Baca, and Nain Zarate-Camarero were indicted on charges of using counterfeit IDs to gain employment, identify theft and making a false statement to a federal agency, according to federal records. The three men were arrested in July.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Federico Torres-Perez and Juan Francisco Martinez-Olivares last month on similar charges.

The plant’s human resource manager, Elaine Crump, was also arrested last month on 20 felony counts charging that she instructed employees to use fraudulent employment eligibility forms.

In a February series on workplace safety in the poultry industry, the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported that some House of Raeford managers knowingly employed undocumented workers, according to five current and former supervisors and human resource administrators.

Former supervisors have said the plant prefers undocumented workers because they are less likely to question working conditions for fear of losing their jobs or being deported.

Since publication of the series, 11 House of Raeford employees have been arrested on immigration violations. Eight of the arrested employees, including Crump, are scheduled to be in federal court Tuesday for a pretrial hearing. Cruz-Soto, Badillo-Baca and Zarate-Camarero are to be arraigned on Aug. 28.

The three unlawfully obtained fake Permanent Resident cards and someone else’s Social Security number with the intent to deceive and for the purpose of obtaining something of value between October 2006 and August 2007, according to federal documents.

House of Raeford has said it doesn’t knowingly hire undocumented workers and regularly asks outside counsel to audit company records and hiring practices. "We take all necessary efforts to comply with applicable law, including immigration laws," the company wrote in a recent statement.

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