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Published: Saturday, 11/3/2001

11 in area accused of immigration violations

FINDLAY - Ten people who had been living in Findlay and a Lima man, all said to have “visa irregularities,” have been charged with immigration violations by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Mark Hansen, director of the INS regional office in Cleveland, said yesterday they are being held in Cleveland on unspecified immigration violations. He would not confirm statements by an FBI agent that the suspects had paperwork indicating they had entered the United States from Israel.

“I can confirm we have those individuals in custody,” Mr. Hansen said. “But we don't have much to share with you on these cases. For the past two months, we've been under pretty strict guidance from headquarters to not release much information.”

Hancock County Sheriff Mike Heldman said he was notified by the FBI Wednesday morning that federal agents would be at the Crystal Glen Apartments on Findlay's northeast side later that day. The FBI did not request local assistance.

In Lima, though, Allen County sheriff's deputies and Lima police helped FBI and immigration agents search for explosives Wednesday night at a kiosk at the Lima Mall and in a van parked outside the mall. Nothing was found.

Maj. Larry Van Horn said the sheriff's office used two explosives-sniffing dogs for the search. The dogs did not smell anything unusual at the mall kiosk but picked up a scent on the van. The Lima police division's bomb squad searched the van but found nothing, he said.

The owner of the van was held overnight at the Allen County jail then transferred to Cleveland the next day, Major Van Horn said.

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