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April 16, 2008Buffalo, NY, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

New York restaurant owner among 11 charged with harboring in ICE probe

45 illegal alien workers arrested on immigration violations at owner's seven restaurants

BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents arrested 11 individuals today for conspiring to harbor illegal aliens who were smuggled into the United States to work in Mexican restaurants in four states.

The United States Attorney for the Western District of New York, Terrance P. Flynn, and Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), announced the arrests Wednesday morning. The defendants are charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, primarily undocumented Mexican nationals, who were smuggled into the country to fill jobs at seven Mexican restaurants.

The 11 suspects were taken into custody at the following locations: six in the Western District of New York, one in Bradford, Pa, two in W Va., and two in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Those arrested include:

  • Jorge Delarco of Depew, N.Y., owner of all seven restaurants;
  • Javier Banda, of Depew, N.Y., restaurant manager;
  • Sergio Resendiz, of Salamanca, N.Y., restaurant manager;
  • Maurilio Feria, of Alleghany, N.Y., restaurant manager;
  • Jesus Escalante, of Dunkirk, N.Y., restaurant manager;
  • Honorio Banda, of Bradford, Pa., restaurant manager;
  • Alberto Antimo, of New Martinsville, W.Va., restaurant manager;
  • Miguel Antimo, of Dunkirk, N.Y., restaurant manager;
  • Alejandro Garcia, of Wheeling, W.Va., restaurant manager; and
  • Alvaro Soto, of Willoughby, Ohio, restaurant manager.

"Employers who exploit illegal alien labor to reap greater profits for themselves can expect to pay a high price for their greed," said Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "Whether the violator is a multinational corporation or a small business, ICE is aggressively targeting employers who use illegal alien workers to gain an unfair business advantage and take jobs away from legal workers."

In addition to the 11 criminal arrests, 45 illegal aliens were detained at 10 different sites in four states. They will be processed for removal on administrative immigration violations.

Today's operation, which involved approximately130 ICE agents and 30 state and local law enforcement officers, is the result of an investigation that began in May 2006. The U.S. Attorney noted that his office is coordinating closely with the U.S. Attorneys in Atlanta, Ga., Wheeling W.Va., Cleveland, Ohio, and Erie, Pa.

As part of the operation, ICE agents and local officers executed search warrants at the seven restaurants, six residences occupied by the owners and managers of the restaurants, and 12 apartments used to house undocumented aliens. The Mexican restaurants targeted in the investigation are located in four states. They include:

  • El Caporal Mexican Restaurant, Cheektowaga, N.Y.;
  • Azteca Mexican Food Cantina, Vineyard Drive, Dunkirk, N.Y.;
  • Don Lorenzo Mexican Restaurant, Allegany, N.Y.;
  • La Herradura Mexican Restaurant, Bradford, Pa.;
  • Jalapeno Loco Mexican Restaurant in Mentor, Ohio;
  • Nogales Mexican Restaurant in Wheeling, W.Va.; and
  • El Caporal Restaurant in New Martinsville, W.Va.

In addition, ICE agents searched a home connected to the Delarco organization in Marietta, Ga., for cash the defendant may have skimmed from his restaurants.

The Cheektowaga Police Department, the New York State Police, the U.S. Department of Labor, and Customs and Border Protection's Office of the Border Patrol all assisting ICE agents during the ICE operation in Western New York. Other federal, state and local partners assisted the ICE operations in Pa, Ohio, W.Va., and Ga.