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O.C. Garment Maker, Nearby Home Raided

Labor: Santa Ana contractor Magic Cut & Sew cited for alleged violations. Federal and state agents then hit apartment unit in effort to stop home sewing work.


SANTA ANA — In the latest effort to weed out illegal home sewing operations in Orange County, a phalanx of state and federal agents raided a garment contractor Tuesday morning, then swooped down on a nearby apartment unit.

State labor inspectors cited Magic Cut & Sew Inc. for alleged record-keeping and license violations as well as improper cash payments to workers and employment of an underage worker.

The state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement fined the company more than $10,000.

State agents confiscated a vanload of fabric and clothes from the Santa Ana business, at 2299 S. Grand Ave. The clothes had labels bearing the name of Crazy Shirts, a popular sportswear maker in Tustin.

After the raid on Magic Cut, a team of state and federal officials and local police went straight to the apartment unit. Inspectors, who had a search warrant, came away with a few bags of garments, which also had Crazy Shirts labels.

In the unit, there was a single sewing machine, an old Singer, with fabric in place and a nearby table lamp burning. But none of the four adults in the apartment said they were doing the work.

Carlos Saldana, owner of Magic Cut & Sew, said in an interview that he opened up shop recently and was unaware of any homework. He said he would have to look into it.

"I'm surprised right now. I really don't know what to say or what to think," Saldana said after the daylong inspection.

Crazy Shirts declined to comment, except to confirm that Magic Cut & Sew is a legitimate contractor.

Jose Millan, an assistant state labor commissioner who took part in the raid, said Tuesday's investigation produced new information that could lead to a "significant" network of underground home sewing work.

Industrial homework is illegal in California, but the problem, which is especially acute in Orange County, continues to rankle labor agents because such work is hard to track down.

The inspection Tuesday was triggered by leads from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which raided the shop earlier this year, and from surveillance by U.S. Department of Labor agents in Santa Ana.

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