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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Kansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 27, 2013

Indictment: Restaurant Manager In Ottawa, Kan.            Harbored Undocumented Workers

KANSAS CITY, KAN. - The manager of a restaurant in Ottawa, Kan., has been charged with harboring undocumented workers, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

Alex Sanchez, Jr., 33, manager of El Mezcal Mexican Restaurant in Ottawa, Kan., is charged with four counts of harboring undocumented aliens for financial gain and five counts of encouraging undocumented aliens to reside in the United States for financial gain. The crimes are alleged to have occurred at various times from Sept. 7, 2011, to June 14, 2013, in Franklin County, Kan.

The indictment alleges the investigation began in June 2011 when the Department of Homeland Security received information that El Mezcal was not completing I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms as required. A DHS agent reviewed the restaurant’s reports and discovered the restaurant did not have I-9 forms for 14 employees. On Nov. 29, 2011, DHS served a final order on Sanchez requiring him to cease violations and pay a fine.

Sanchez continued to employee persons who were not lawfully in the United States. He provided housing for undocumented employees of the El Mezcal Restaurant in Ottawa and other restaurants affiliated with Tequila, Inc. He paid undocumented workers in cash.

 If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each count. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Oakley is prosecuting.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.