MARICOPA COUNTY, AZ – A raid targeting illegal immigration led to the arrests of 21 Phoenix-area McDonald’s workers Friday, and authorities were still seeking 30 other employees as part of their investigation.
Deputies armed with search warrants raided McDonald’s restaurants in Scottsdale, Tempe and Mesa Friday morning.
The McDonald’s locations include:
* McDonald’s 1516 North Hayden Road, Scottsdale
* McDonald’s 3218 South McClintock, Tempe
* McDonald’s 2130 West Southern, Mesa
* McDonald’s 1460 West Southern, Mesa
Arpaio said information developed by his deputies indicates that over 50 employees working at the businesses may be using falsified or stolen identities for the purposes of gaining employment.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says it will take more time to determine whether any of them are illegal immigrants as officials suspect.
Deputies also searched a mansion in Paradise Valley. The mansion is owned by Richard Coulston, who owns the restaurants. Coulston was not arrested.
McDonald’s Corp. referred comment to Coulston’s company, R&L Management. In a statement, the company says people shouldn’t jump to conclusions without all the facts.
“The company has trained its managers and hiring personnel regarding proper hiring procedures,” Pace said. “It does not permit the hiring of employees without completing those procedures … Any individuals unable to meet the legal requirements for establishing authorization to work are not hired.”
Pace said the company was cooperating with the sheriff’s office.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Friday afternoon that McDonald’s employees had been prepped on what to do if they were raided.
Arpaio also said most employees’ records were not kept at the store, but at the Coulston’s lawyer’s office.
Arpaio said deputies were tipped off in November to the McDonald’s they raided by a caller to their illegal immigration hot line, and the tipster alleged several employees bragged about being illegal immigrants.
Deputies used government databases to identify 51 workers who appear to be illegal workers, and were looking for the 30 outstanding suspects.
County officials said if any of the workers turns out to be an illegal immigrant, it could be their fourth civil case under the employer sanctions law, which penalizes employers for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. The law, which is more than two years old, carries license suspensions and revocations for those who knowingly make illegal hires and is designed to reduce the economic incentive for immigrants to cross the border.