Tuesday, April 24, 2007

 

An FBI Raid In Little Village

Where enforcing the law is controversial

The FBI and ICE raided a shopping mall in Little Village:
Federal agents in full gear, some holding machine guns, surrounded the parking lot of the Discount Mall in Little Village. As world of the federal operation spread through the community, demonstrators rushed to the scene. Most were unsure of what was happening, but they had heard that agents detained dozens of people inside the mall.

Rosanna Jimenez works inside and watched as the agents came in.

"They went all the way over there, Foto Munoz, where they take the pictures, and they start picking up people outside here. Everything was blocked completely. So we all got scared. Very scared," said Jimenez.

Twenty-second Ward Ald. Ricardo Munoz says agents confiscated film and a camera, but arrested nobody at Foto Munoz. Witnesses say they did arrest more than a dozen people and detained more than 200 in the mall.

Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said in a statement that the office would hold a news conference Wednesday to release more information on an "alleged fraudulent identification document organization operating in Chicago's Little Village community."

The Little Village neighborhood has one of the largest Mexican communities in the Midwest.

The agents on hand Tuesday included FBI and immigrations officers who had search warrants for an alleged fake ID documentation organization. According to sources, a wide range of fraudulent documents were allegedly being made and distributed at the mall. But protesters say there was no reason to frighten the entire community over it.

"We are not here to stop anybody from enforcing the law. But there is common sense into this thing. Why do it in such a public way as to intimidate the people here in this community?" said Alderman George Cardenas, 12th Ward.
Perhaps because such a show of force was necessary? After all, the raid was conducted at 2pm. Less than 4 hours later, protesters, well organized and aided by Chicago police, were blocking traffic on 26th street.

Bill C adds:

As 2 Investigator Pam Zekman reports, it seems the father of a City Hall alderman is smack in the middle of the ID sales.

Last week, the peddlers were still at a shopping center off 26th Street in the Little Village neighborhood, flashing the sign they had fake ID’s for sale.

One peddler took CBS 2 producer Simone Thiessen to Foto Munoz to get a picture for her fake ID.

"Within seconds one of them offered to sell me fake ID’s for 300 bucks," Thiessen said.

The studio is owned and operated by Elias Munoz, the father of Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd). [Emphasis added.]

Please note that this story is from last year at this time. You would think that they could have collected enough evidence to shut down an operation like this since the Feds have known about it for at least a year.

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