Tuesday, October 12, 2010

15 arrested during raid of Phoenix meat-packing business

Fifteen people were arrested after Maricopa County sheriff's deputies served a search warrant at a Phoenix meat-packing business with employees suspected of using stolen identities on Tuesday.

Between 30 and 40 employees at Prime Cut Meat & Seafood Company were detained by the deputies as the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office looked for 15 to 20 people suspected of identity theft. The Sheriff's Office had been investigating the case for several months, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.

"We're going to continue business raids because you have to understand we have an unemployment problem," Arpaio said. "We took off 15 people with felonies off the street."

At least five of the people arrested had fake dates of birth and Social Security numbers. One of those arrested, a woman, was using the identification of a 90-year-old woman, Arpaio said.

"This is a serious problem, and I'm the bad guy," Sheriff Joe Arpaio said. "People forget (the people we arrested) have false identification, and that's a serious problem."

As the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office drove away from the business, the co-workers of the arrested people waved, cried and one of them shouted in Spanish, "This is an injustice!"

"They destroy families, separate them," said Erasto Martinez, 47, an employee.

Chad Poppen, the owner of Prime Cut Meat & Seafood Company said he was upset at how the system worked.

"I lost one-third of my working staff," said Poppen, who said he runs his employees' information through E-Verify. The system is "forcing you to hire based on the color of their skin."


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