Video of continuing scene at Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in Greeley
DENVER Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in Greeley and in five other states were running at reduced levels on Wednesday, one day after nearly 1,300 employees were arrested in a massive immigration sweep that temporarily halted operations, the company said.Greeley-based Swift, which calls itself the worlds second-largest meat processor, said operations had resumed at reduced levels on Tuesday at the plants in Greeley; Grand Island, Neb.; Cactus, Texas; Hyrum, Utah; Marshalltown, Iowa; and Worthington, Minn.In a written statement, Swift said all shifts were operating at all the plants on Wednesday but production was expected to be below normal in the short term.The statement did not say how much production was lost Tuesday or how long it would be before it returned to normal.Company officials did not return phone messages.The six plants represent all of Swifts domestic beef processing capacity and 77 percent of its pork processing capacity.Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Washington said a total of 1,282 people were arrested at the plants in what ICE described as a crackdown on an identity-theft scheme.But ICE said 1,217 of the detainees were being held on immigration charges alone and only 65 were facing identity-theft or other criminal charges.The agency said more charges were possible as the investigation continues.ICE described the raids as the largest workplace crackdown on immigration in U.S. history.No charges were filed against Swift. President and CEO Sam Rovit has said the company has never knowingly hired illegal workers and does not condone the practice.Privately held Swift & Co. traces its roots to 1855, when 16-year-old Gustavus Swift bought his first heifer and started the business with a $20 loan from his father.It later operated as ConAgra Meats Co., the fresh beef and pork processing business of ConAgra Foods Inc. ConAgra had acquired the Greeley-based family business Monfort Inc., at one point the worlds largest cattle feeding operation.Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc. and Booth Creek Management Corp., run by former Vail ski area owner George Gillett Jr., bought a majority interest in ConAgras fresh beef and pork processing business for $1.4 billion in 2002.The trade publication Cattle Buyers Weekly estimates Swift has the capacity to process 15,850 cattle per day and about 46,000 hogs per day, editor and publisher Steve Kay said.
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