Immigration officials discovered that herbal industry powerhouse HerbCo International, Inc. was knowingly hiring illegal aliens and over half of the 150 crop workers at the company's Duvall, Washington organic farm were illegal aliens.
According to King 5 News, the Duvall farm immigration bust is one of the biggest federal investigations of its kind in the United States.
Since last year, investigators have been looking at the HerbCo's hiring practices across the nation.
Under the Obama administration, immigration investigators no longer conduct splashy work-site raids in which they arrest large numbers of illegal immigrants. Rather, they use audits of employment records to stealthily target employers who hire them.
The U.S. Attorney's Office has filed felony and misdemeanor charges against HerbCo owner Ted Andrews, and top company officials, David Lykins Jr. and Debra Howard of aiding and abetting illegal immigrants, as well as harboring, inducing and encouraging them to reside in the U.S.
Charging documents filed in the Federal Court in Seattle say Andrews, Lykins and Howard, "harbored, concealed and shielded from detection" one illegal immigrant.
While sources would not talk specific numbers, they say the company was knowingly and willfully hiring illegals at its farms.
HerbCo was founded over 20 years ago by organic-farm owners and its products are sold in more than 2,700 supermarkets in over 20 states. HerbCo owner, Ted Andrews is a former Nordstrom executive, who helped build HerbCo into an herbal empire with farms in several states.
The three HerbCo officials are due in court May 1.
For more information read The Seattle Times.
Updated: Wed, Jul 5th 2017 @ 4:25pm EDT