SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Southern California ministry whose leaders are charged with using deadbolt locks to detain homeless residents and making them turn over panhandling money was no fly-by-night operation. Imperial Valley Ministries was known in the remote desert region for decades of work helping drug addicts turn their lives around.

The ministry operated a ranch for men, a group home for women and a small headquarters office on one of the busiest streets in El Centro, a city of 45,000 people in a region of scorching summers, high unemployment and bountiful winter harvests that supply supermarkets across the United States. Residents were seen at intersections in burgundy T-shirts with the ministry's name emblazoned in white letters, asking idled motorists for money in exchange for a flier about the ministry's work and a choice of peanuts or candy.

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