EL MIRAGE and YOUNGTOWN, Ariz. -- Maricopa County sheriff's deputies on Friday morning converged on two business locations -- one in El Mirage and another in Youngtown -- as part of an investigation into possibly identity theft and fraud.
The first raid happened at a sanitation company owned by Parks & Sons of Sun City. That business is located near U.S. 60 and Thunderbird Road. That location is the company's maintenance yard.
Between 40 and 50 deputies and posse members armed with search warrants descended on the facility early Friday morning.
Aerial video showed deputies going into and out of the building, several of them carrying what appeared to be evidence bags.
The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office reportedly received a couple of anonymous tips from workers several months ago indicating that the company employed suspected undocumented immigrants who had used stolen identities or false documents to get their jobs. The company has been under investigation for about six months.
Deputies said they were looking for seven suspected illegal immigrants. Those seven people have been taken into custody, including one who reportedly jumped over a fence in an effort to get away, said Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The family of one of the men taken into custody said the father of six had worked at Parks & Sons for 15 years. They believe the sheriff's raids are unfair and target people who are just trying to make a living.
Investigators talked to about 40 other employees at the El Mirage location.
"We have information on seven [suspects], but there's a few others we don't have information on," Arpaio said. "They're still here illegally. We'll deal with them."
The other raid location was in Youngtown near Grand and 111th avenues. That is the main office of Parks & Sons of Sun City, which employs about 100 people and has been doing business in the Valley since 1964.
Deputies said the raid was going smoothly and everybody was cooperating. Arpaio said his team was trying to determine if Parks & Sons knowingly hire the suspected illegal immigrants.
"We accomplish our mission by taking off the streets people that committed Class 4 felonies by using other peoples' identification," Arpaio said. "That should be the big story. ... What about the false identification they [the suspects] are using? That's why we're number one in the nation for ... stealing peoples' identities. ... Most of them [the suspects], either they steal someone's Social Security number and use those, and you know how it is when y our ID is stolen, how long it takes to get that rectified."
Some say that having 40 to 50 deputies and posse members involved in the raid was a waste of resources. Arpaio vehemently disagreed.
"Why does everybody talk about me using resources?" he asked. "Actually, I should have had more out here because we had people escape. I should have put more people out here. I don't care about the critics. I know how to run this organization."
MCSO has conducted dozens of raids like this morning's operation since the employer sanctions law went into effect.
"This is our 36th investigation, going into workplaces," Arpaio said. "One hundred percent of the people we arrest, almost, are here illegally."
Arpaio said his office has "a list" of businesses currently under investigation for allegedly employing suspected undocumented immigrants.
According to MCSO, two of the suspect taken into custody Friday morning are suspected of committing identity theft. One was wanted on an outstanding warrant.
The remains four suspects were suspected of being in the country illegally and were turned over to ICE. That process will soon change with the imminent implementation of Senate Bill 1070, due to go into effect on July 29. Arpaio said he's looking forward to that.
"With the new law, I'm going to put them in jail. They're not going to be turned over to ICE," Arpaio said. "I will enforce that new law because it gives me the authority now to arrest those that we have no other crime on."
MCSO said the investigation into Parker & Sons will continue as sheriff's deputies are looking for several other employees suspected of committing identity theft.