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Archive for Friday, September 27, 2013

Ottawa El Mezcal manager charged with immigration violations

September 27, 2013, 11:31 a.m. Updated September 27, 2013, 5:30 p.m.

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The El Mezcal Mexican Restaurant in Ottawa was closed in June because of a criminal investigation by federal immigration and customs authorities.

The El Mezcal Mexican Restaurant in Ottawa was closed in June because of a criminal investigation by federal immigration and customs authorities.

The manager of the El Mezcal Mexican Restaurant in Ottawa has been charged with harboring people working in the country illegally.

Alex Sanchez Jr., 33, is charged with four counts of harboring for financial gain people working in the country illegally and five counts of encouraging them to reside in the United States for financial gain, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said on Friday.

The restaurant was closed in June because of a criminal investigation by federal immigration and customs authorities.

The crimes are alleged to have occurred at various times from September 2011 to June 2013. When the Ottawa restaurant was closed in June, a Homeland Security spokesman told the Journal-World that the investigation also involved local law enforcement agencies in the Kansas City area and in Ottawa, including the Clay County Sheriff’s Office in Missouri, the Overland Park Police Department and the Ottawa Police Department.

An El Mezcal restaurant at 1520 Wakarusa Drive, one of three in Lawrence, closed in early August. Tomas De La Paz, listed on corporate annual reports filed with the state as a director of the El Mezcal in Ottawa and the Wakarusa location, referred all questions to his attorney, who could not be reached Friday.

Friday’s indictment alleges that the investigation began in June 2011 when the Department of Homeland Security received information that El Mezcal was not completing employment eligibility forms as required. A DHS agent later discovered that the restaurant did not have I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification forms for 14 employees. Sanchez was served a final order in November 2011 to cease violations and pay a fine.

Grissom said on Friday that Sanchez continued to employ and provide housing for people living in the country without proper documentation and working at the El Mezcal Restaurant in Ottawa and other restaurants affiliated with Tequila, Inc., paying the workers in cash.

Sanchez faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted.

Comments

Karl_Hungus 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Virgil Peck loves the place, I hear

0

catfishturkeyhunter 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Question. What makes the business practices of the Ottawa El Mezcal any different from any other Mexican restaurant?

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Liberty275 6 months, 3 weeks ago

We need open borders and we should welcome any person that wants to come to America to work. Right now America is doing nothing but creating a black market of virtual slaves. That policy is not acceptable.

2

kernal 6 months, 3 weeks ago

El Mezcals other distinction is the number of health department violations. They had every restaurant in Lawrence beat. Maybe they still do, but I've not noticed any postings at LJWorld online in months.

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Joe Hyde 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I dined at the Ottawa El Mezcal probably a half dozen times. Great location at the south end of downtown. Very good food, good service, good atmosphere, just like at all the El Mezcals I've ever been in.

Hopefully the corporate office gets things ironed out to where these closed-down ones are re-opened and operating under legit hiring and management practices.

3

Terry Lee 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Ottawa has become a hole -- mini Detroit

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Richard Heckler 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Why not go after Wal-Mart, or Pizza Hut or some some large construction company?

Why the focus on a small cafe business? Or why only El Mezcal?

6

Terry Lee 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Anyone surprised? Waiters at the one out West could barely speak or understand English.

1

Dan Rose 6 months, 3 weeks ago

A little birdy tells me this is also the reason the El Mezcal @ Bob Billings & Wak was closed down recently... will soon be another restaurant.

FYI

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Norma Jeane Baker 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm not surprised, but I guess I don't see this as a huge victory for DHS.

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