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Springfield Restaurant Workers Charged with Immigration Violations in Worksite Enforcement Operation

July 8, 2011

Springfield, Ill. - Five individuals who were previously employed at La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant in Springfield, made initial federal court appearances this morning. The workers were each charged by criminal complaint following execution of a search warrant on Jul 6, 2011, by agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security Investigations conducting a worksite enforcement investigation.

In separate criminal complaints, three workers have been charged with fraudulent misuse of documents: Sylvia Carlos-Castaneda, 36; Martin Sarmiento-Aguilar, 33; and Christian Martinez-Fuentes, 24. The affidavits filed in support of the complaints allege that when agents executed a search warrant at La Fiesta restaurant on Jul 6, personnel files in the manager’s office were examined. For each of the defendants, agents allegedly located fraudulent employment eligibility documents, including immigration and social security numbers provided by the defendants that did not relate to the defendant or were invalid numbers.

Two workers have been charged with illegally re-entering the United States: Mateo Alonzo-Gomez, 21, and Javier Vicente-Inocente, 31. According to the affidavits filed in support of the complaints, immigration records show that Alonzo-Gomez, a citizen of Mexico, has been removed from the United States on three prior occasions. Vicente-Inocente, according to the affidavit, was allegedly deported from the U.S. in November 2005.

The defendants made their initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Byron G. Cudmore and were ordered to remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Any additional individuals arrested for administrative immigration violations will remain in ICE custody.

If convicted, the statutory penalty for fraudulent misuse of documents is up to five years in prison. For illegal reentry after deportation, the maximum statutory penalty is 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Members of the public are reminded that a complaint is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security Investigations. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Harris.

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