CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - U.S. Attorney Matt M. Dummermuth announced Thursday that 297 of the 389 people arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on May 12 at Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville, Iowa, pleaded guilty and were sentenced this week on federal felony charges. Sixty three of those pleas and sentencings took place in Waterloo May 22.
"Based on the number of criminal convictions, this is the largest criminal worksite enforcement operation ever in the United States," said Dummermuth.
Last week, 305 of the 389 were arrested on criminal charges. Since then, six juvenile cases were dismissed, and three additional defendants were arrested. Of the 302 persons charged criminally only five have pending cases. As with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation; a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Those facing criminal charges were provided with court-appointed attorneys when they were charged, and the defendants consulted with those attorneys with the assistance of interpreters before entering guilty pleas.
The criminal charges have resulted in the following dispositions:
- 230 defendants were sentenced to five months in prison and three years of supervision for using false identification to obtain employment after admitting to using an actual person's identity;
- 30 defendants were sentenced to five months in prison and three years of supervision for falsely using a social security number or card after admitting to using an actual person's social security number;
- eight defendants were sentenced to five months in prison and three years of supervision for illegally re-entering the United States after being deported;
- two defendants were sentenced to 12 months and a day in prison, and three years of supervision for using false identification to obtain employment after admitting to using an actual person's identity;
- 21 defendants were sentenced to five years of probation for using false identification to obtain employment using fraudulent documents that did not belong to an actual person;
- two defendants were sentenced to five years of probation for falsely using a social security number or card where the number did not belong to an actual person;
- four defendants were sentenced to five years of probation for illegally re-entering the United States after being deported.
"Months of investigation and operational planning really paid off and allowed us to move through so many cases since May 12," said Dummermuth. "Other key factors include ICE's substantial commitment of personnel and resources, the outstanding cooperation of a number of other vital law enforcement agencies, and the flexibility of the Court in moving its operations to Waterloo. But the single biggest reason for the astonishing success of this operation to date has been the dedication, expertise, and around-the-clock work during the last two weeks of the people involved including employees from my office, from all of the participating law enforcement agencies, and from the federal district court."
"While long hours and challenging circumstances were faced, those involved acted with professionalism and respect for the Constitution and the rule of law," Dummermuth continued. "It is unfortunate that those with their own agenda have spread misinformation - ignoring the fact that 297 people admitted their crimes and accepted the consequences of their actions."
"There have been no checkpoints, no random contacts, and no house-to-house sweeps as have been rumored," said Dummermuth. "Those arrested were provided with attorneys before they decided to plead guilty, and we are working with the United States Department of Labor to see to it that employees who are in custody receive their final paychecks."
"Despite the usual spate of false allegations and baseless rumors, this operation and its follow-up activities were carried out with the utmost professionalism," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Bloomington, Minn. "Dozens of arrested adults were released to care for their children; 23 juveniles were turned over to responsible adults or to specialists, and every detainee was treated with respect and dignity at all times."
"All detainees were given access to phones and were attended to by Public Health Service medical professionals from the moment they came into our custody," said Scott Baniecke, field office director for the ICE Office of Detention and Removal Operations in Bloomington, Minn. "We also provided secure, private areas for detainees to meet with attorneys and consular officials from their home countries."
Dummermuth and Arnold thanked employees of the following agencies for their tireless work on this executing the operation: ICE, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Iowa Department of Public Safety, the Iowa Department of Transportation, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Public Health Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Waterloo Police Department, the Postville Police Department, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Iowa.
Arnold noted that the ICE-led investigation is ongoing. Other agencies assisting the investigation include: the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Iowa Department of Public Safety, the Iowa Department of Transportation, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigations, and the U.S. Department of Labor.