Five more workers rounded up during an ICE raid at a Grainger County slaughterhouse are pleading guilty to federal immigration charges.
The five are among 10 who were charged last month during a federal operation at Southeastern Provision in Bean Station. Federal authorities allege plant owner James Brantley had hired dozens of workers illegally and was paying them illegally, records show.
Brantley has not been charged.
The 10, in custody, are from Mexico or Guatemala. They were indicted after the April 5 raid on charges of failing to obey deportation laws or illegally returning to the United States after being ordered out.
Other workers also were detained in the raid. Immigration advocates say some of those have since been moved to Louisiana to face further scrutiny by immigration authorities.
With the guilty pleas, a total of eight of the 10 people arrested have now signaled guilt. Two others, Virgen Mendoza Perez and Pablo Tivurcio-Lopez are awaiting prosecution in U.S. District Court in Greeneville, records show.
The counts to which the eight are pleading address failure to leave the country or illegal entry after removal from the United States.
The eight, records show, are identified as Evelio Alejandro Bravo-Arreaga; David Perez-Bartelon; Jose Roblero-Bravo; Marvin Oriel Marroquin-Lopez; Domingo Gregorio-Domingo; Antonio Garcia-Martin; Fidel Silva-Silva; and Mateo Gomez-Pablo.
Marroquin-Lopez and Gregorio-Domingo were in court Tuesday in Greeneville.
Brantley has declined comment.
Federal agents raided the slaughterhouse after receiving a tip that the owners were skirting tax and payroll laws.
Those charged with re-entering the country after being deported face up to two years in prison. Those charged with failing to leave after being ordered out face up to four years.
Mendoza-Perez faces up to 20 years because she's twice been ordered deported and previously have been convicted of a child abuse case in Florida.
Along with facing federal prison time, they also ultimately still will face deportation.
Religious and immigration advocates have called on the government to show compassion in the aftermath of the raid, one of the country's largest in recent years.