Dec 20, 2006 6:03 pm US/Mountain

15 Indicted After Immigration Raid At Hyrum Plant

A federal grand jury indicted 15 people Wednesday on charges related to a recent immigration raid during which federal agents arrested 145 people at a Utah meatpacking plant.

The Swift & Co. plant in Hyrum was one of six raided in a crackdown on illegal immigration. In Utah, Cache County prosecutors filed forgery and identity-theft charges against 58 people, and others are facing immigration violations.

Of those indicted Wednesday, 14 are Mexican citizens and three aren't in custody. One indictment is sealed.

Court papers allege defendants used and sold false birth certificates and Social Security numbers for employment purposes.

Identity theft is the most serious charge faced by those indicted. A conviction on one count is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Meanwhile, about 30 protesters gathered downtown Wednesday evening holding signs that read: "Free Trade and Free Immigration," "Products and people cross borders" and "Workers rights are human rights."

The protest was organized by Hispanic and labor rights groups in protest of the raids.

Swift & Co. describes itself as an $8 billion business and the world's second-largest meat processing company. The Hyrum plant can process up to 2,200 cattle a day, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.