Federal agents raided a northeast manufacturing company Tuesday morning for allegedly hiring at least 160 undocumented immigrants.
The raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations officials was part of an ongoing criminal investigation into Load Trail, a company based in Sumner that makes vehicle trailers.
Sumner is located about 100 miles northeast of Dallas and 12 miles northwest of Paris.
Load Trail is accused of illegally hiring undocumented workers, many who used fraudulent identification documents, ICE stated in a news release.
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Out of the 160 taken into custody, mostly men, only five were processed at the location and released. The five were deemed to be sole caregivers to children, according to ICE and HSI Special Agent Katrina Berger.
The five individuals were given notices to appear in front of federal authorities.
“It’s a big deal,” Berger said. “This is one of the larger single worksite operations in the last 10 years.”
Berger said Tuesday’s enforcement is usually reserved for repeat offenders.
“The businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens create an unfair advantage over their competing businesses,” Berger said. “In addition, they take jobs away from U.S. citizens and legal residents and they create an atmosphere poised for exploiting their illegal workforce.”
Federal authorities brought about 300 field agents to the raid, which was conducted smoothly without any serious incidents and “nothing that necessitated medical attention,” Berger said.
The detained individuals were taken to two facilities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and another in Oklahoma.
Load Trail designs trailers and flatbeds for pickup trucks, so many of the employees are welders and metal workers, Berger said.
Despite the detentions, Load Trail has not been shut down. It is unclear if the owners will face any charges, but criminal arrests are expected, Berger said.
ICE and the Department of Health and Human Services will interview the workers to determine whether they will remain in custody or be considered for humanitarian release, the news release stated.
Berger said the operation serves as a stern warning to businesses that illegally hire employees.
“You may have gotten away with it but we’re watching and we’re coming,” she said.