LAST JUNE, Noel Williams, the chief operations officer of Iowa Select Farms, a powerful pork company and the largest in Iowa, pulled into the parking lot of an empty housing complex typically used for the firm’s immigrant workforce.
He was there to transport Lucas Walker, a former truck driver for Iowa Select, to a meeting with Nick Potratz, an FBI agent from the Des Moines office of the bureau. That’s according to Walker, who had recently tried to report Iowa Select, his former employer, for mistreating animals. After The Intercept published leaked video of pigs being killed off en masse, Walker came under scrutiny.
Now, the FBI had a favor to ask: Would Walker become an informant? More specifically, they wanted him to help in an effort to investigate and undermine an activist group that had become a thorn in Iowa Select’s side. They even asked if he’d be willing to sell drugs.
The saga that brought him into contact with the FBI began when the 26-year-old grew frustrated with his former employer, Iowa Select, which is headquartered in his hometown of Iowa Falls. Walker thought the company was blatantly disregarding state “double stocking” rules, which limit the size and number of pigs that are held in an intensive animal feeding facility, letting overweight pigs crowd into pens far too small to hold them.
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