Food firm 'imported Mexicans'

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The United States government has accused Tyson Foods, the world's biggest poultry company, ofillegally importing immigrant labour across the Mexican border.

The charges were unveiled yesterday in a 36-count indictment handed down in a federal court in Tennessee after a covert investigation by the Immigration and Naturalisation Service lasting two and a half years. The indictment implicates 15 Tyson plants in nine states in the scheme, dating back to 1994, by which workers were smuggled across the border and given false documents.

Tyson, which sells £5.3bn of processed chicken each year, denied the charges and said four of the six executives named in the suit had been sacked and two others placed on leave. Its shares slumped 6 per cent on Wall Street.