Ten Arrested at Sparboe Farms 09 Jan 13

Federal agents conducted “a law enforcement action” Tuesday at Sparboe Farms in Litchfield.

The Star Tribune reports 10 people were arrested. Shawn Neudauer, regional spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), declined to reveal the reason for the action but did tell the paper what brought agents to Sparboe was separate from what led to the arrests.

Neudauer said the arrests of those “encountered on-scene” were made on “administrative charges,” a legal tool ICE often uses in cases involving immigration. Such arrests are akin to someone being picked up for drunken driving and then released before appearing in court. Eight of those arrested remain in custody. Two were released for what he called “humanitarian reasons.”

Neudauer says agents with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division conducted “a law enforcement operation, which is part of a larger criminal investigation,” and that “due to the ongoing nature of this operation, no further information is available at this time.”

In November 2011, Sparboe took a public relations hit when an animal rights group released a video of conditions in hen housing the company owned. Taken in Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado, the video portrayed crowded cages common in the egg industry, but also showed one worker swinging a chicken by a rope or chain and another stuffing a hen in a co-worker’s pants pocket. After the video came out, McDonald’s and Minneapolis-based Target, a major grocery, quickly dropped Sparboe as a supplier.