U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Matthew Albence told The Associated Press that the arrest count from Wednesday's raids may make it the largest workplace sting in more than a decade and probably the largest ever for a single state.
Authorities say about 600 agents fanned out across the plants, surrounding the perimeters to prevent workers from fleeing. They targeted several companies.
The raids happened in small towns near Jackson with a workforce made up largely of Latino immigrants. The towns hit include Bay Springs, Carthage, Canton, Morton, Pelahatchie and Sebastapol.
U.S. immigration officials have launched raids at several Mississippi food processing plants.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said Wednesday that search warrants were executed at seven locations across the state targeting several companies. They include the Morton plant of poultry producer Koch Foods Inc., which has no relation to Charles and David Koch. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the operation were not intended for publication.
The official says owners as well as employees are targeted in a federal criminal investigation.
The AP witnessed dozens of agents ready to process the workers inside a military facility in Flowood, Miss., with seven lines, one for each location.
Elliot Spagat contributed reporting from San Diego.