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Posted on Wed, Aug. 09, 2006

Whitewater factory workers arrested for being illegal immigrants

Associated Press

WHITEWATER, Wis. - Local and federal authorities have arrested a business owner and 25 of his workers who are alleged illegal immigrants, police say.

Acting Whitewater police chief Lisa Otterbacher said the 26 people were arrested at about 10 a.m. Tuesday at a packaging business.

Whitewater police were to ask the Walworth County district attorney to charge the owner with party to conspiracy to commit misappropriation of identification.

The 47-year-old owner is accused of employing people without proper documentation, Otterbacher said. Otterbacher said the owner's arrest came after "a number of meetings between the company owner and the investigators."

She said the owner was told many times that he couldn't employ illegal immigrants.

Officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago and Walworth County deputies assisted Whitewater police in executing a search warrant at the business.

The raid followed a long investigation that began in February, Otterbacher said.

The workers, including 13 women, were taken to the Dodge County Jail, where they were kept pending deportation proceedings, Gail Montenegro, an ICE spokeswoman, said Wednesday. The proceedings could take as little as a few days or a couple weeks, she said.

All of the immigrants are from Mexico, Montenegro said.

The owner was released on signature bond Wednesday. A woman who answered the phone at his home referred the call to attorney Frank Lettenberger, who did not immediately return a call Wednesday night.