September 26, 2013 - Eastern Kansas restaurant manager indicted for harboring illegal aliens

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – A restaurant manager in eastern Kansas was indicted in federal court Friday on nine counts related to hiring and harboring illegal aliens for his business.

This indictment resulted from a criminal investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Alex Sanchez Jr., 33, manager of El Mezcal Mexican Restaurant in Ottawa, Kan., is charged with four counts of harboring illegal aliens for financial gain, and five counts of encouraging illegal aliens to reside in the United States for financial gain.

These crimes are alleged to have occurred at various times between Sept. 7, 2011 and June 14, 2013.

According to the indictment, this investigation began in June 2011 when HSI special agents received information that El Mezcal was not completing I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms for its employees, as required by federal law for all U.S. businesses. HSI special agents reviewed the restaurant’s documents and discovered the restaurant did not have I-9 forms for 14 employees. HSI served a final order to Sanchez Nov. 29, 2011 requiring him to cease the violations and pay a fine.

This indictment further alleges that Sanchez continued to employ illegal aliens after being served notice, and that he provided housing for his illegally employed workers at the El Mezcal restaurant in Ottawa and other restaurants affiliated with Tequila Inc. He also allegedly paid his illegal workers in cash.

If convicted of these charges, Sanchez faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 for each count in the indictment.

These charges are allegations of criminal conduct. In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent unless otherwise proven guilty in a court of law.

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