According to three Department of Homeland Security officials, federal authorities are investigating whether 50 minors, among them, were as young as 13, who were reportedly working illegally cleaning Midwest slaughterhouses were the victims of labor trafficking.
Agents from Homeland Security Investigations have reportedly spoken with kids who cleaned a JBS Foods slaughterhouse in Grand Island, Nebraska, according to the officials.
There is no evidence that DHS is looking into child labor accusations against Packers Sanitation Services Inc., or PSSI, the employer of the youngsters. According to two DHS representatives, the agency is instead looking into the matter to rule out the chance that outside traffickers may have pressured kids to work for PSSI and made money off of their labor.
Homeland Security Investigations, a branch of DHS, stated in a statement that it was unable to comment on the matter due to an ongoing investigation and recommended any more inquiries to the U.S. Labor Department.
In December, PSSI signed a consent agreement with the department and agreed to follow child labor regulations as a result of an investigation by the Labor Department and a civil lawsuit conducted by the government against the company. The Grand Island plant and a second JBS Foods facility in Worthington, Minnesota was two of the places where labor authorities discovered a total of 50 kids working for PSSI.