Aug. 29 (UPI) -- More than 300 federal agents detained over 100 undocumented workers at a Texas manufacturing company after swooping in with multiple helicopters.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained 160 workers in the raid Tuesday, federal authorities said, and they were taken into custody that afternoon as agents executed a search warrant at the facility, run by a company called Load Trail, about 100 miles northeast of Dallas.
"I know I just heard helicopters everywhere and I saw a whole lot of people running and so I turned to run and the first corner I hit I got guns drawn down on me," an unnamed witness told ABC News.
The search involved agents from New Orleans, Houston and San Antonio, Katrina Berger, Homeland Security's special-agent-in charge of investigations, told ABC. The agency launched the investigation after getting a tip that Load Trail may have knowingly hired undocumented immigrants.
"I knew these were clearly illegals. This is not the way we are supposed to be hiring," Berger said. "They told me to keep doing my job -- that if they were visited by ICE again, they would simply pay the fine and go on."
The raid, part of an ongoing investigation into the trailer manufacturing company, is believed to be the largest of its kind nationally in a decade, ICE's Homeland Security Investigations Office told the Dallas Morning News.
Detention centers in Dallas and Oklahoma have been processing the undocumented workers for deportation, ICE said.
Factory worker Dennis Perry said he was torn about the incident.
"I feel sorry for them," Perry, 42, told the Dallas Morning News. "They are trying to support their families," he said. "I am never going to be against people who want to support their families. But there is a right way to do it."
Still, "I couldn't call anyone on them. In my work, you get to know a lot of these guys," Perry added.