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AZ: Maricopa Deputies Raid Phoenix Business - 44 Illegal Aliens Arrested

MSCO: Deputies raid Phoenix business, make 44 arrests

Reported by: Brent Roulier
Email: broulier@abc15.com
Reported by: MaryEllen Resendez
Last Update: 8/13 10:00 pm

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies arrested 44 people during a raid at a business in south Phoenix Thursday morning.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the managers at the Royal Paper Converting Company, located near 17th Avenue and Fillmore Street, knowingly hired undocumented immigrants who were using false identification documents to get hired.

But the Sheriff also admitted to reporters he has no evidence against the company.

The search warrant was granted on evidence gathered with social security numbers used by 39 of the workers.

Arpaio said this is the second time in two years his deputies received information that the company was hiring undocumented immigrants. The first raid occurred in March of 2008 and resulted in the arrest of four employees accused of identity theft, according to a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office news release.

"So they're still coming, they're still arrogant, they're still being hired and they're still working," Arpaio said during a news conference Thursday. "So, nothing has really changed since we cracked down on this situation."

But according to Virginia Reyna, who waited anxiously outside for her 19-year-old niece, many of the workers held were legal.

"I'm upset with the stuff they're doing with the innocent people inside, " said Reyna. He's (Arpaio) cruel. He should get other people who are doing harm, instead of innocent people like this."

During Thursday's incident, about 100 deputies and posse members surrounded the business. According to the news release, "Several employees attempted to flee but were found and detained by deputies."

MCSO stated that 102 people were targeted during the investigation. Of those, so far 44 have been arrested. Thirty-five of those arrested face state felony charges of identity theft.

Angela Aspericueta, whose family member is legally working at the paper plant, worried about the female workers being detained.

"They're doing everything wrong, cause the people who have kids in school," said Aspericueta. "What if they take their moms? What are they gonna do?"

According to the release, the remaining employees will be sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) where they'll face deportation.

During the raid, deputies removed computers, employment records, payroll records, and other documents from the premises.

Arpaio said deputies are still searching for other suspects involved with the Royal Paper Converting Company and the investigation into the company's alleged illegal practices will continue.

Thursday's arrests were the result of a yearlong investigation, according to Deputy Lindsey Smith with MCSO.

The MCSO news release stated that Thursday's raid "marks the 23rd investigation of local businesses knowingly hiring illegal aliens that has been conducted by the Sheriff's Office since 2008. Of those investigations, nearly 50 percent of the businesses involved have been located inside the city of Phoenix. All 23 investigations have resulted in over 310 arrests of illegal aliens."

During Thursday's news conference, Arpaio added that during the past two weeks alone deputies have arrested 168 undocumented immigrants during several investigations.

"I'm pleased to see that local ICE authorities apparently may have changed their position about accepting people for possible deportation who we determined during today's operation are in the country illegally but with no state violations of the law," said Arpaio.

Arpaio said that only three weeks ago, ICE officials ordered his office to release 10 undocumented immigrants from custody.

"Today, they are accepting our arrests with no apparent interference from the Department of Homeland Security. That's a good sign," said Arpaio.

Still, Arpaio made it clear that he is not pleased with the federal government's opposition to how he deals with illegal immigration.

"President Obama and DHS Director (Janet) Napolitano have a new policy which concentrates on going after employers who hire illegal aliens – not employees who work here illegally," said Arpaio. "I don't agree with their thinking. I will continue to enforce all federal and state illegal immigration laws. It's a problem that we cannot afford to ignore."

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