Federal agents have arrested a fifth House of Raeford Farms supervisor and are still searching for others as they continue their investigation into alleged immigration violations at the company's Greenville, S.C., poultry plant.
The latest supervisor arrested, Guadalupe Templos, has been charged with aggravated identify theft, as well as presenting a fake document and making a false statement to a federal agency. The charges were presented to him in federal court Wednesday.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested four other plant supervisors on similar charges Tuesday. They've issued arrest warrants for others.
The men remained in federal custody Wednesday after a judge set their bond at $50,000.
In a February series about working conditions in the poultry industry, the Observer found North Carolina-based House of Raeford increasingly relied on Latino immigrants. Of 52 current and former Latino workers who spoke to the Observer about their legal status, 42 said they were in the country illegally. Former supervisors said managers were well aware that undocumented immigrants worked for the company.
Immigration officials, spurred by the Observer report, recently questioned two former House of Raeford supervisors about how immigrant workers were hired and whether company managers knew some of those workers were in the country illegally, according to those supervisors. The former supervisors are U.S. citizens and were not among those arrested this week.
House of Raeford has said it doesn't knowingly hire undocumented workers and takes “all necessary efforts” to comply with the laws.
With eight processing plants in the Southeast and about 6,000 employees, House of Raeford is one of the nation's top chicken and turkey producers. In the early 1990s, when another company owned the Greenville plant, most workers were African Americans. Now, most are Latino. The Associated Press contributed.