PHOENIX (AP) -- Federal agents served search and arrest warrants Saturday at a number of Phoenix-area car washes as part of an ongoing investigation involving immigration fraud and other alleged crimes.
Agents executed the warrants at 16 locations associated with Danny's Family Car Wash and the company's staffing service provider, HR Betty. It's unclear how many charges have been filed and who is named in the arrest warrants. Those documents have been filed under seal in federal court.
Amber Cargile, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Saturday that the two-year investigation targets the owners, corporate leadership and management of the two businesses. She said multiple defendants face charges of criminal immigration fraud, identity theft and financial violations.
"A lot of these businesses will sometimes subject them (their employees) to substandard conditions to give them an edge that their competitors don't get," she said.
The owner of Danny's Family Car Wash, Daniel Hendon, did not immediately return a message left Saturday by The Associated Press. A message seeking comment also was left at the Phoenix office of HR Betty.
Special agents with ICE Homeland Security Investigations spent hours serving the warrants Saturday. Cargile said she expects the documents to be unsealed after the defendants make their initial appearances in federal court.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Arizona, Cosme Lopez, said he was unsure when that would happen.
"Everything is really fluid right now. It just happened," he said.
Workers suspected of being in the country illegally were taken into custody, but Cargile said they would be released within a matter of hours as long as they had no outstanding criminal records.
"We're going to be interviewing everybody," she said. "We want to see whether or not they have any information relative to the criminal investigation."
Customers getting their cars washed were escorted off the properties.
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