The Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) arrested 20 men and women in Memphis this week for using fraudulent identification documents to get jobs at Expeditors International.
Homeland Security Investigations worked with THP on the case, said Thomas Byrd, a spokesman for U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“It’s a state level investigation and we assisted,” Byrd told The Tennessee Star. “We did not detain anyone. Everyone arrested was detained by THP.”
Expeditors International is a global logistics company headquartered in Seattle. The individuals arrested were trying to land jobs with a temp agency that contracts with Expeditors, reports WREG News Channel 3. They were arrested Tuesday morning at the company’s Hickory Hill warehouse and charged with forgery and criminal simulation. Expeditors issued a statement indicating its willingness to cooperate with authorities.
Those arrested presented fraudulent permanent resident and social security cards as well as Tennessee driver’s licenses, according to a THP news release.
The immigration activist group Latino Memphis raised questions about the arrests as details were unfolding.
“It’s a reality that immigrants have to find documentation to work,” Mauricio Calvo, the group’s executive director, told WREG. “It’s ironic that working is a crime.”
But THP Colonel Tracy Trott said that “identity theft has become a huge problem across the country.”
“The THP has a dedicated unit to investigate these types of fraudulent crimes in Tennessee. We will continue to arrest and prosecute these criminals that intend to steal the identity of our citizens,” Trott said.