Worksite Identity Theft Uncovered at Swift & Co. and Nationwide
by Jim Kouri, CPP
On Tuesday morning, federal agents executed search warrants at six facilities owned by Swift & Company. The operation was part of a worksite enforcement investigation that has identified a large identity theft scheme that has victimized large numbers of US citizens and lawful residents. Swift & Company is a top tier corporation and a nationwide processor of fresh beef and pork.
Federal agents executed the court-authorized warrants at Swift’s processing facilities in Greeley, Colorado; Grand Island, Nebraska; Cactus, Texas; Hyrum, Utah; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Worthington, Minnesota. These warrants allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to search for and apprehend any illegal alien workers encountered at these facilities.
Because agents are still in the process of apprehending illegal alien workers, an arrest total is not available at this time. The aliens are being arrested on administrative immigration violations and, in some cases, existing criminal arrest warrants. Additional criminal charges of aggravated identity theft and other violations may also be brought at a later time.
Evidence uncovered during the ICE investigation, which began in February 2006, indicates that large numbers of illegal aliens may have illegally assumed the identities of US citizens or lawful US residents and improperly used their Social Security numbers to gain employment at Swift facilities. ICE agents and the Federal Trade Commission have identified hundreds of potential victims.
In total, agents apprehended 1,282 illegal alien workers on administrative immigration violations at Swift facilities. Of these, 65 have also been charged with criminal violations related to identity theft or other violations, such as reentry after deportation. Countries of origin of those arrested were: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Peru, Laos, Sudan and Ethiopia; others have yet to be identified.
“Violations of our immigration laws and privacy rights often go hand in hand,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
“Enforcement actions like this one protect the privacy rights of innocent Americans while striking a blow against illegal immigration,” he said.
"This investigation has uncovered a disturbing front in the war against illegal immigration. We believe that the genuine identities of possibly hundreds of US citizens are being stolen or hijacked by criminal organizations and sold to illegal aliens in order to gain unlawful employment in this country. Combating this burgeoning problem is one of ICE’s highest priorities,” said Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Julie Myers.
Evidence uncovered during the investigation, which began in February 2006, indicates that hundreds of these illegal aliens may have illegally assumed the identities of US citizens and improperly used their Social Security numbers and other identity documents in order to gain employment at Swift facilities.
ICE and the Federal Trade Commission have identified hundreds of US citizens whose stolen identities have been used by these aliens and have reported being victimized by this identity theft scheme. ICE and the FTC are working to identify other victims who may be unaware that their identities have been stolen.
The investigation has uncovered criminal organizations around the country that traffic in genuine birth certificates and Social Security cards belonging to US citizens. In recent months, ICE agents have arrested several members of these organizations in Minnesota, Texas, Utah and Puerto Rico.
In some cases, these organizations have stolen legitimate identity documents and Social Security cards from unwitting US citizens. In other cases, they have purchased these documents from US citizens willing to sell their identities for money, including homeless people and individuals in jail.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.