WASHINGTON, D.C. – – Michael Chertoff, Assistant Attorney General for

the Criminal Division announced today that a federal grand jury in

Chattanooga, Tennessee returned a thirty-six count indictment against

executives and managers of Tyson Foods, Inc., the world’s largest producer,

processor, and marketer of poultry-based food products, for conspiracy to

smuggle illegal aliens to Tyson Foods processing facilities in the United

States for profit.

“The Department of Justice is committed to vigorously investigating and

prosecuting companies or individuals who exploit immigrants and violate our

nation’s immigration laws,” said Chertoff. “The bottom line on the corporate

balance sheet is no excuse for criminal conduct.”

The thirty-six count indictment unsealed today in United States District Court

for the Eastern District of Tennessee, is the result of a two-and-one-half

year undercover investigation conducted by the Immigration and Naturalization

Service (INS) into the business practices of Tyson Foods. Tyson Foods

executives and managers are accused in the indictment of conspiring to import

and transport illegal alien workers from the Southwest border to Tyson plants

throughout the United States. Fifteen Tyson Foods plants in nine states have

been implicated in this conspiracy to defraud the United States government.

“This case represents the first time INS has taken action against a company of

Tyson’s magnitude,” said INS Commissioner James Ziglar. “INS means business

and companies, regardless of size, are on notice that INS is committed to

enforcing compliance with immigration laws and protecting America’s


According to the indictment, Tyson Foods cultivated a corporate culture in

which the hiring of illegal alien workers was condoned in order to meet

production goals and cut costs to maximize profits. The indictment describes a

scheme by which the defendants requested delivery of illegal aliens to work at

Tyson plants in the United States and aided and abetted them in obtaining

false documents so they could work at Tyson poultry processing plants “under

the false pretense of being legally employable.”

In addition to charging Tyson Foods Inc., the indictment includes two

corporate executives, Robert Hash, Vice-President, Retail Fresh Division and

Gerald Lankford, former Human Resources Manager, Retail Fresh. Also indicted

are four former managers Keith Snyder, Complex Manager, Noel, Missouri; Truley

Ponder, former Complex Manager, Shelbyville, Tennessee; Spencer Mabe, former

Plant Manager, Shelbyville, Tennessee; and Jimmy Rowland, former Complex

Personnel Manager, Shelbyville, Tennessee.

The United States Attorneys Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the

Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department

of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration,

the Bedford County Tennessee Sheriff’s Department, the Shelbyville Tennessee

Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol participated in this INS