5 In custody after MCSO raid on Valley business, 1 worked at Army basePosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Maricopa County sheriff's detectives on Tuesday executed a search warrant at a Phoenix business called Valley View Building Services, which is located on 19th Street south of the U.S. 60.
Investigators said they were searching for as many as 25 people suspected of identity theft and fraud. Five people were taken into custody; four of them are suspected of being in the country illegally.
"We're trying to do surveillance at work sites," said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. "They were not all here at the headquarters. They spread out. ... We're not done yet."
Arpaio said his detectives also served a search warrant the the home of the owner of Valley View Building Services Inc.
Tuesday morning's workplace operation was the culmination of a three-month investigation.
According to the sheriff's office, investigators determined that at least one employee who allegedly is in the country illegally was working at Fort Huachuca military base, which is located in Cochise County about 15 miles north of the Mexican border. Fort Huachuca housed the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM)/9th Army Signal Command.
"One thing I want to find out is how many more illegals have been hired [to work at] Fort Huachuca," Arpaio said. "That's a high intelligence installation. I don't think people should go on that installation to work if they're in this country illegally."
The owner of the business said he used E-verify and had no idea some of his employees allegedly had false identification.
"It goes back to Sheriff Joe's point of after E-verify, we need to do more," said Joel Votaw, one of the co-founders of Valley View Building Services. "I just ask what that 'more' is. Is there something legal that we're not aware of as business owners that we should be checking? Because I don't think we can just fire people based on accusations or suspicions that they might be here illegally."
Arpaio said the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible.
This morning's raid comes just days before Arizona's controversial new anti-illegal-immigration law -- Senate Bill 1070 -- is slated to take effect.
Arpaio said only one thing about his operations could change if SB1070 takes effect as scheduled on Thursday.
"It doesn't change what we've been doing," Arpaio said. "For example, one of the females we arrested for false identification, we may turn that person over to ICE. Now with the new law, we can book them into our jail for that new misdemeanor law for being here illegally. So, instead of turning them over to ICE, we would book that person, too."
Arpaio said his next crime-suppression sweep will take place on Thursday, when SB 1070 is supposed to go into effect.
Judge Susan Bolton is expected to make a decision regarding several lawsuits that have been filed to block SB 1070 from going into effect. She could let the new law go into effect as is, block it completely or block only portions of it. A ruling is expected today or tomorrow.