BUFFALO - A man from Mexico pleaded guilty on Tuesday to harboring as many as 100 illegal aliens for commercial advantage. The plea was announced by U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., Western District of New York. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Erie County Sheriff's Department.
Simon Banda-Mireles, also known as Jorge DeLarco, 50, a native and citizen of Mexico, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Rogowski, who is handling the prosecution, stated that the defendant, who at one time owned and operated several Mexican restaurants in western New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, admitted to employing and harboring between 25 and 100 illegal aliens in those businesses between 2006 and 2008. Banda-Mireles further admitted that he paid those employee substandard wages and thereby gained a commercial advantage over other restaurants who paid workers at least minimum wage.
As part of his plea agreement, Banda-Mireles, who entered the United States illegally using an assumed identity of Jorge DeLarco, agreed to forfeit cash and other assets seized when he and 10 of his managers were arrested in April 2008, in connection with this case. Six of Banda-Mireles's managers have been convicted; four others are scheduled to go to trial in May.
"Our office will continue to actively and vigorously enforce immigration laws," said U.S. Attorney Hochul. "This case should serve as a warning for anyone seeking to exploit any individuals for commercial profit, especially vulnerable persons such as undocumented aliens."
"Today's guilty plea of the principal target of this investigation is an outstanding example of the ICE worksite enforcement strategy which focuses on criminal aliens and employers who knowingly hire illegal workers," said Lev Kubiak, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Buffalo. "ICE will use all of our resources to target criminal enterprises that break the law, exploit workers, and gain an unfair advantage over businesses which chose to operate within the law."
Sentencing is scheduled for July 14 at 9 a.m. before Chief U.S. District Court Judge William M. Skretny.