October 23, 2003 - Posted at 11:03 a.m. CDT
BENTONVILLE, AR - Federal officials arrested more than 300 illegal workers at 61 Wal-Mart stores across the country early this morning and searched the Bentonville headquarters of the world's largest retailer.
The workers arrested were members of cleaning crews which the company hired through a contractor. All were people in the country illegally. That's according to a federal official on condition of anonymity.
A Wal-Mart spokesman says the workers were employed by a contract cleaning services company and are not Wal-Mart employees.
The arrests occured as the workers were finishing their night shift and took place at 61 stores in 21 states.
The arrests stem from a November 1998 investigation done in conjunction with the Pennsylvania attorney general's office. In that investigation, officials also targeted contractors and subcontractors used by Wal-Mart to clean stores.
The people arrested were detained at local immigration offices. If they had no previous criminal record, they were released with notices to appear before immigration judges.
Arrests were made in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.