U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents executed a search warrant Wednesday morning at the Peco Foods, Inc. plant in Canton.
U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents executed a search warrant Wednesday morning at the Peco Foods, Inc. plant in Canton.

Nearly 700 federal law enforcement agents executed administrative and criminal search warrants at seven sites in Mississippi early Wednesday morning, including the Peco chicken processing plant in Canton in what was the largest single-day immigration enforcement action in the state’s history. 

Approximately 680 illegal aliens were arrested on the warrants at the Peco plant and throughout the operation, with approximately 150 at the Canton plant alone.

Other cities targeted Wednesday included Carthage, Pelahatchie, Morton, Walnut Grove, Sebastopol and Bay Springs. 

The operation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of Justice.

Mike Hurst, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, said approximately 650 federal agents were brought in from other parts of the country to aid in the operation. 

“The execution of federal search warrants today was simply about enforcing the rule of law in our state and throughout this great country,” Hurst said. “I commend these federal agents, our state and local law enforcement partners, and our federal prosecutors for their professionalism and dedication to ensure that those who violate our laws are held accountable.”

He added, “We are a nation of laws, and we will remain so by continuing to enforce our laws and ensuring that justice is done.”

HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Jere Miles said the warrants were related to individuals illegally present in the country. 

“HSI’s worksite enforcement efforts are equally focused on aliens who unlawfully seek work in the U.S. as well as the employers who knowingly hire them,” Miles said. 

A number of the illegal aliens detained today will be eligible for an alternative to detention and were released to their place of arrest while awaiting a hearing in front of a federal immigration judge. The judge will decide whether or not to deport the alien.

Those arrested and being processed for removal by ICE were transported to an ICE facility in Jena, La. 

If there are children who are without parents, individuals are required by state law to contact Mississippi Child Protective Services (“CPS”) at 1-800-222-8000. CPS will assist in taking care of that child and placing the child in a safe foster care home or licensed facility.

Family members of those detained can call ICE’s toll-free detainee locator hotline for information about an individual’s detention location and status, as well as information about the removal process. This hotline operates in English and Spanish. The phone number is 1-888-351-4024