Federal agents raid 16 Danny's Family Car Wash locations in criminal investigation

PHOENIX - Agents began serving arrest warrants at 16 Valley car wash locations Saturday morning as part of a federal criminal investigation.

Amber Cargile, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed that federal agents were executing search warrants at 16 Danny's Family Car Wash locations.

Agents began serving the warrants around 11 a.m. Agents were at each location for several hours.

Cargile said the raid was in reference to an investigation involving alleged "criminal immigration fraud, identity theft and financial violations," according to an emailed release.

The warrants also include the Danny's third-party staffing provider, HR Betty.

Further details surrounding the case have been sealed under U.S. Federal Court, Cargile said. She said she expected the warrants and other documents to be unsealed on Monday after defendants make their first court appearances.

Officials stress this was not an immigration raid but was focused on "employers who are gaming the system."

They say employees with proper identification and no criminal issues were being released.

Homeland Security Investigations special agents said the cases' focus was on the employers -- not the car wash employees.

"We target employers. Employers that aren't playing by the rules. We don't target the employees. We're targeting the companies that are not playing by the rules, not following the law," said Barbara Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said the allegations are very serious.

"As Americans our identity is very important to us. So when people steal our identity, that's a problem. And that's something we take very seriously and investigate vigorously," she said.

Youtube user Ryan Jones tweeted a link to this video with the caption, "HSI/ICE busted my car wash today." The video was posted August 17 and was taken at the 83rd Avenue and Union Hills location in Peoria, according to Jones.

A phone call placed Saturday afternoon to Danny's Family Companies corporate offices was not immediately returned, and there was no answer when CNN called one of its car wash locations.

Its website, as well as local news reports, tout that Danny's car wash locations have been sites of numerous fund-raisers. A recent one involved members of the Phoenix, Gilbert, Scottsdale police departments, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and various fire departments which raised $57,000.

The 25-year-old business also has a "Cop Coffee" program, in which law enforcement officers pay 25¢ for any coffee or fountain drink inside a Danny's convenience store.

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