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West Valley
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MCSO raids Uncle Sam’s restaurants in identity theft case

WEST VALLEY, Ariz. -- Maricopa County sheriff's deputies arrested 10 people after executing search warrants at a Valley restaurant chain suspected of hiring illegal workers.

Sheriff's detectives conducted a nine-month-long forgery and ID theft investigation into Uncle Sam's, a family-style restaurant. Detectives said they suspected as many as 121 people hired to work there since October gained employment through false documentation.

MCSO offic8ials said Wednesday's operation targeted two of the restaurant's locations, one in Peoria at 18913 N. 83rd Ave., and the second in North Phoenix at 3217 East Shea Blvd. Detectives said they also searched the Scottsdale home of the restaurant owner.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the probe began in October 2012 after his office received a tip from a caller.

A thorough examination was conducted utilizing both public and law enforcement databases, MCSO officials said. Sheriff's detectives found 121 discrepancies, including names not matching the Social Security numbers provided.

Mr. Arpaio said many of the victims are local residents, and several have agreed to aid in prosecuting the offenders, largely because of the havoc ID theft created in their lives.

Members of Puente Arizona and families of those arrested rallied outside the jail Wednesday night.

"These raids are inhumane and unjust," said Sandra Castro Solis, a Puenta Arizona organizer. "Arpaio's racial profiling was recently declared unconstitutional by a federal judge, so these raids must not be allowed to continue."

The group demanded the release of those arrested.

"We will raise our voices to make sure not one more victim of Arpaio is deported and that those working to feed their families are not criminalized," Solis said.

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