SPRINGDALE, Ark. -- Tyson Foods here and six employees were named in a 36-count indictment charging the world's largest poultry processor with conspiracy to smuggle illegal immigrants into this country for the purpose of staffing Tyson plants.
An industry observer told SN the indictment was unlikely to lead to higher poultry prices unless it leads to a more widespread investigation of the meat industry.
John Lawrence, professor of agriculture, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, said, "If this indictment is the end of it, it probably will have very little lasting effect, but if the Immigration and Naturalization Service wants to drag this out and use it as a launching pad to investigate the industry, who knows where it will go?
"There are immigrant workers throughout the meat industry. It has been a starting point for immigrants to this country for decades. If there is an increased effort to ensure those people are not allowed to come in and work, the industry may see an increase in the wage rate."
The investigation by the INS lasted nearly three years, and officials allege the company condoned the activity of the six employees to meet production goals and cut costs.
The defendants also were charged for knowingly aiding the aliens obtain false documents that allowed them to work at the plants, officials said. In a statement, Tyson denied the allegations and said the six people charged -- two corporate executives and four plant managers -- were acting "outside of company policy."
The company noted the four managers named in the indictment were fired several months ago during an internal company investigation.