- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 1, 2008

ANNAPOLIS | Federal officials arrested 45 people on illegal immigration charges Monday in one of the largest investigations of its kind in Anne Arundel County, police said.

Federal and local authorities just after dawn executed search warrants at Annapolis Painting Services and 15 residences thought to be owned by the business, Anne Arundel County Police Chief James Teare Sr. said.

“We believe that they were all associated with this painting company,” Chief Teare said outside the business in the 2500 block of Housley Road.

Most of the 45 people are thought to be painters, Chief Teare said. They are now in the custody of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Agents at the scene directed reporters’ inquiries to agency spokeswoman Ernestine Fobbs. However, she did not return calls seeking comment. Investigators could be seen towing vehicles and removing boxes from the business.

About 50 county police worked with 75 federal officials on the investigation, which lasted for several months, Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold said.

Mr. Leopold, a Republican, said the arrests should send a strong signal that hiring illegal immigrants will not be tolerated in Anne Arundel County.

“This is the most important signal to make that message known,” he said.

The business did not return calls or e-mails seeking comment.

The company describes itself on its Web site as “one of the largest painting contractors in the region,” which has worked on prominent buildings in the area, including the Maryland State House and facilities at the Naval Academy.

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