MCSO raids GNC warehouse in Phoenix


by Jennifer Thomas

Video report by Mike Watkiss

Posted on August 9, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 9 at 4:55 PM

Map: GNC distribution center

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PHOENIX -- Maricopa County sheriff's deputies raided a vitamin distribution warehouse Thursday morning and took several people into custody for allegedly working under false identification.

The sheriff's office believes General Nutrition Corporation may be employing as many as 21 workers using false identifications to gain employment.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the investigation began last year when his office received a tip from an employee at the warehouse.

About 30 deputies are at the distribution center near Buckeye Road and 63rd Avenue in Phoenix. They executed a search warrant and took five people into custody.

"We had two hiding -- one in a ladies' room and another under some type of equipment," Arpaio said.

MCSO is checking the legal status of those individuals. Their names have not been released.

"I'm concerned about the victims," Arpaio said. "It's very difficult for the victims to get this alleviated when people are using their identification."

He said two suspects were using the Social Security numbers of desceased people.

Arpaio said the manager has been very cooperative.

GNC spokesman Greg Miller released the following statement:

"We have been informed by a senior investigator that GNC is not the focus of the investigation. GNC is fully cooperating with the investigation. It is a consistent corporate policy to follow all relevant state and local employment regulations. GNC has also commenced an internal investigation into the situation."

3TV reporter Mike Watkiss asked Miller if GNC is not the focus then who is and he did not offer an answer to that question.

The warehouse currently employs more than 250 people and is the main Phoenix metro area distribution site for GNC retail outlets, a popular vitamin and health supplement retail chain with more than 70 stores throughout the Valley.