Swift Justice? Not Bloody Likely.

Categories: Cover Story
Illustration by Brian Stauffer

So, it’s official: All 53 illegal immigrants charged with fraud after the December raid at Swift & Co.’s Cactus meatpacking plant have pled guilty in federal court in Amarillo. They face five to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 for using the stolen identities of American citizens. Anyone think it’s a problem that not one manager has been indicted in the hirings of thousands of illegal aliens, especially after evidence surfaced that, in many cases, managers knowingly and deliberately hired them?

Two weeks ago in the paper version of Unfair Park, we reported that managers hired hundreds of Mayan Guatemalans who couldn’t speak English or Spanish, some of whom used names like Smith and Johnson. Former workers even told of managers charging money to hire illegals. Are any of them facing prison terms or steep fines? Nope. I keep thinking about what Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Carl Rusnok told me a few months back, about the agency’s “new strategy” against employers who violate immigration law. “Under the old INS, we used to fine employers. ICE has taken a different tack -- basically going after egregious violators from a criminal standpoint,” he said, and mentioned several cases in which managers were arrested in connection with large numbers of undocumented employees. So what happened with Swift?

To read the self-congratulatory press release sent out by the U.S. Attorney’s office (“U.S. Attorney Roper praised the excellent cooperative work of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” blah, blah, blah), read on. --Megan Feldman

SIX FORMER EMPLOYEES AT SWIFT & COMPANY MEAT PROCESSING PLANT IN CACTUS, TEXAS PLEAD GUILTY

AMARILLO, Texas - Six former employees of the Swift & Company Meat Processing Plant in Cactus, Texas, pled guilty yesterday in federal court in Amarillo, to charges stemming from the December 12, 2006 immigration enforcement action at the plant, announced U.S. Attorney
Richard B. Roper of the Northern District of Texas.

Four of those defendants, Jesus Gutierrez-Ramos, Domingo Velasquez-Gutierrez, Manuel Castro-Pablo and Cristino Pablo-Alonzo each pled guilty to one count of fraud in connection with an immigration document. They each face a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in
prison and a $250,000 fine.

Two of the six defendants, Juan Tecum-Tecum and Antonio Hernandez-Mejia, pled guilty to a superseding misdemeanor information charging unlawful entry by an illegal alien. The penalty for this offense is a statutory maximum sentence of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

All 53-defendants who were charged in the Northern District of Texas have pled guilty. Sentencing dates have not yet been set.

U.S. Attorney Roper praised the excellent cooperative work of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Williams of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Lubbock, Texas.


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