Illegal restaurant workers, beware: Sheriff Joe Arpaio is after you.
Why go after human traffickers or drug dealers or any other kind of bad guys when the Valley's hospitality industry is apparently such a ripe, easy target for tracking down undocumented workers? That's the surefire strategy the Sheriff is taking.
According to Stephen Lemons of New Times' Feathered Bastard blog, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office raided a Pei Wei at 7th Avenue and Glendale at lunchtime last Friday (nice timing! Get 'em while they're manning a fiery wok or elbow-deep in dishes!), busting a bunch of employees who'd used fake IDs to land their chain restaurant jobs.
It's pretty lame that the dudes making your lettuce wraps are public enemy number one when there might be some actual murderers on the loose, but the MCSO is proud of its months-long investigation of the fast-casual Chinese eatery, whose headquarters are in Scottsdale. Search warrants were issued for two Phoenix Pei Wei locations, as well as outlets in Fountain Hills and Tempe, and the corporate HQ.
Twenty-six people were arrested, and deputies are heading to private residences to sniff out more culprits. According to an MCSO records check, a suspected 121 out of 800 Pei Wei employees countywide have used falsified documents to work there.
All of this comes on the heels of raids at such places as McDonald's and Sizzler. Immigrants have long been entrenched in the restaurant industry, so the MCSO should have an endless supply of mild-mannered working class immigrants to handily bust this way.
And after that, what's next? Baristas? Bakers? Ice cream scoopers? The possibilities are endless, and it's enough to make a person lose their appetite.