Deputies arrest 2 more in wake of McDonald's raid

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on March 30, 2010 at 11:52 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 30 at 5:35 PM

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MARICOPA COUNTY -- Maricopa County sheriff's deputies say they have arrested two more people in connection with last week's raid on four Valley McDonald's restaurants.

According to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, Arley Lopez, 28, and Jose Prado, 35, were arrested Monday night in Mesa. Prado was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Investigators believe Lopez was store manager at one of the Mesa locations that was raided as part of an illegal immigration investigation. Prado reportedly is a general manager for McDonald's. Both Lopez and Prado have been with McDonald's since 1999.

Last Friday, deputies armed with search warrants hit two McDonald's locations in Mesa and one each in Tempe and Scottsdale. They also searched the Paradise Valley home of Richard Coulston, the franchisee who owns those restaurants.

A total of 21 people were arrested, including an American-born citizen. She was released several hours later.

At the conclusion of the operation, there were several more people to whom deputies wanted to speak, including Lopez and Prado.

In all, investigators believe more than 50 people believed to be undocumented immigrants at those four restaurants might have engaged in identity theft and forgery to get jobs.

Coulston released a statement through his lawyer Friday afternoon, saying his company "takes compliance with immigration laws seriously." The statement also warned people not to jump to conclusions and said the company, R&L Management is "fully cooperating" with the investigation.

ORIGINAL STORY: Deputies arrest 21 in raids on 4 Valley McDonald's, P.V. home

SCOTTSDALE -- The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office armed with search warrants launched raids at four Valley McDonald's restaurants and a Paradise Valley home Friday morning.

That home belongs to Richard Coulston, the owner of the targeted restaurants.

The warrants are in connection with a stolen-identity investigation.

According to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, deputies believe 51 employees at the four McDonald's locations -- two in Mesa and one each in Tempe and Scottsdale -- might have gotten jobs by using false or stolen identities.

According to MCSO spokesman Douglas Matteson, deputies began serving the warrants at about 7 a.m.

So far, 21 people have been arrested.

One woman, however, was an American-born citizen; Viridiana Ramirez, a shift manager at McDonald's and single mother, was handcuffed and taken into custody. Ramirez said she tried to explain that she was a citizen but the officers would not listen, and she was still detained for four hours.

After learning of the mistake, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said, "That's just normal police work. You sometimes take people in for probable cause for questioning and they're released."

The owner of the four McDonald's franchises released a statement this afternoon through his attorneys. It has been copied below:

“R&L Management takes compliance with immigration laws seriously. We strongly caution anyone from jumping to conclusions without having all the facts.

"The company has trained its managers and hiring personnel regarding proper hiring procedures. It does not permit the hiring of employees without completing those procedures, which include using the government program E-Verify, as well as reviewing documentation and completing Form I-9s. Any individuals unable to meet the legal requirements for establishing authorization to work, are not hired.

"R&L Management is fully cooperating with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office in their investigation. Because this is an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate to further comment or speculate at this time. ”

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