PORTLAND, Maine – A series of arrests and search warrants at several restaurants and residences in Maine has resulted in charges against 10 individuals who were taken into custody by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
On Sept. 21, Guillermo Fuentes of Westbrook, Maine, and Hector Fuentes of Waterville, Maine, were arrested and charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and one count of engaging in a practice of hiring unauthorized aliens. Court records reveal that the charges relate to hiring and employment practices at three Mexican restaurants in Maine: the Fajita Grill in Westbrook, owned by Guillermo Fuentes; and the Cancun Mexican Restaurant in Waterville and the Cancun Mexican Restaurant II in Biddeford, Maine, both of which are owned by Hector Fuentes.
On Sept. 30, Santos Herasmo Elias-Lopez, Esteban Lopez-Cruz, Salvador Carmona-Ramirez, Enrique Ruiz-De La Cruz, Ernesto Bravo-Rodriguez and Arturo Serrato-Rodriguez were charged by criminal complaint with possession of false documents, including lawful permanent resident and Social Security cards. Zaqueo Nectali Elias-Lopez and Catalino Lopez-Gomez have been charged by criminal complaint with possession of false documents and unlawful presence in the United States after having been removed. These eight individuals are identified as restaurant workers. Court records reveal that they are Mexican and Guatemalan citizens who were encountered by ICE HSI special agents executing search warrants at restaurants owned by Guillermo Fuentes and Hector Fuentes, in addition to residences associated with those restaurants.
The possession of false documents charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The unlawful presence charges carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison. On each count, the individuals also face fines of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release.
Effective worksite enforcement plays an important role in the fight against illegal immigration. ICE has developed a comprehensive worksite enforcement strategy that promotes national security, protects critical infrastructure and targets employers who violate employment laws or engage in abuse or exploitation of workers.