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ICE agents arrest 97 illegal immigrants in raid on meat processing plant

U.S Border Patrol agents in Florida took someone off of a Greyhound bus after allegedly asking everyone on board for proof of citizenship. (John Gibbins/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

Federal agents took 97 immigrants into custody at a Tennessee meat processing plant Thursday in what is believed to be the largest workplace raid in a decade.

Eleven people were arrested on criminal charges and 86 were detained for being in the country illegally, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Tammy Spicer said in a statement Friday.

The raid was on Southeastern Provision in Bean Station, Tenn.

The maneuver follows a series of arrests at 7-11 stores and other workplaces in a President Donald Trump-led crackdown on illegal immigration.

ICE released 32 of the 86 arrested on civil immigration charges. Fifty-four people were detained, but the agency did not release their identities.

Authorities executed a federal criminal search warrant at the cattle-slaughter facility. Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service and Tennessee Highway Patrol also took part in the operation.

The plant is under investigation for allegedly hiring undocumented immigrants, filing false tax returns and evading taxes.

IRS special agent Nicholas R. Worsham alleges the facility failed to report $8.4 million in wages and avoided payroll taxes for dozens of undocumented workers.

The plant first came under scrutiny months ago after Citizens Bank employees noticed that Southeastern Provision was withdrawing large sums of cash weekly, The Washington Post reported.

An undercover police officer was hired by the company using a false name and was paid in cash, Worhsam said.

James Brantley is the president and general manager of the business, court records show.

Company managers have not yet been charged.

Immigration arrests have risen more than 40 percent since Trump took office.

Deportations from the interior or the United States have gone up 34 percent under his administration.

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© 2018 New York Daily News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.