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Thread: Federal agents raid local gift shops

  1. #1
    Guest
    Agents of a federal organized crime task force raided gift shops in
    Orange
    and Osceola counties Thursday morning to round up suspects in an
    illegal
    immigration and money laundering operation.

    Business owners arrested during the raid also are accused of hiring
    illegal
    aliens from North Africa, the Middle East and India.

    The roundup began at 10 a.m. when a fleet of police cars swept along
    International Drive in Orange County and West U.S. Highway 192 in
    Osceola
    County.

    'It scared the hell out of me,'' an attractions ticket salesman said in
    Kissimmee. ''FBI. DEA. Customs. What was I to think?''

    The targets included all the Big Bargain World outlets in both counties
    as
    well as Sports Dominator, a discount athletic equipment chain store.

    The arrests included businessman Jesse I. Maali, 57, of Isleworth, a
    prominent figure in Central Florida's Arab-American community.

    He and M. Saleem Khanani, 51, of Orlando, own numerous businesses. They
    face up to 20 years in federal prison and fines of $500,000 if
    convicted of
    money laundering and violating immigration laws, the U.S. Attorney's
    Office
    said.

    Maali and Khanani were indicted along with three other men by a federal
    grand jury. They are accused of hiring 53 foreign nationals from
    January
    1999 to December 2001 at seven Big Bargain World shops. The other
    businesses named in the indictiment wer Jeans Unlimited, Denim
    Unlimited,
    Barakat Corp. and Barakat International.

    The owners are accused of illegally soliciting foreign nationals to
    come to
    Orlando to work for them. They also are accused of helping those
    workers
    elude the INS and find them housing.

    Attorneys for the suspects could not be reached by midday Thursday. The
    suspects were awaiting arraignment at the federal court house in
    Orlando.
    The agencies involved included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the
    Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Customs Service, the Drug
    Enforcement Administration, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement,
    Orange County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Highway Patrol.

  2. #2
    Guest
    Agents of a federal organized crime task force raided gift shops in
    Orange
    and Osceola counties Thursday morning to round up suspects in an
    illegal
    immigration and money laundering operation.

    Business owners arrested during the raid also are accused of hiring
    illegal
    aliens from North Africa, the Middle East and India.

    The roundup began at 10 a.m. when a fleet of police cars swept along
    International Drive in Orange County and West U.S. Highway 192 in
    Osceola
    County.

    'It scared the hell out of me,'' an attractions ticket salesman said in
    Kissimmee. ''FBI. DEA. Customs. What was I to think?''

    The targets included all the Big Bargain World outlets in both counties
    as
    well as Sports Dominator, a discount athletic equipment chain store.

    The arrests included businessman Jesse I. Maali, 57, of Isleworth, a
    prominent figure in Central Florida's Arab-American community.

    He and M. Saleem Khanani, 51, of Orlando, own numerous businesses. They
    face up to 20 years in federal prison and fines of $500,000 if
    convicted of
    money laundering and violating immigration laws, the U.S. Attorney's
    Office
    said.

    Maali and Khanani were indicted along with three other men by a federal
    grand jury. They are accused of hiring 53 foreign nationals from
    January
    1999 to December 2001 at seven Big Bargain World shops. The other
    businesses named in the indictiment wer Jeans Unlimited, Denim
    Unlimited,
    Barakat Corp. and Barakat International.

    The owners are accused of illegally soliciting foreign nationals to
    come to
    Orlando to work for them. They also are accused of helping those
    workers
    elude the INS and find them housing.

    Attorneys for the suspects could not be reached by midday Thursday. The
    suspects were awaiting arraignment at the federal court house in
    Orlando.
    The agencies involved included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the
    Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Customs Service, the Drug
    Enforcement Administration, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement,
    Orange County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Highway Patrol.

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