Phil Fairbanks, Buffalo News, October 18, 2016
Four of Buffalo’s most popular Mexican restaurants found themselves with some unexpected visitors Tuesday–federal agents looking for undocumented workers and criminal suspects.
By the end of the day, 25 people were arrested and the restaurants’ owner, Sergio Ramses Mucino, was facing charges that he and two others harbored workers living in the country illegally.
He is also accused of grossing about $50,000 a week at each of the restaurants but failing to report that as income for purposes of state and federal taxes.
As part of the raid, agents seized a 2016 Cadillac Escalade and a 2009 Porsche Boxster.
“This was a 2 1/2-year-long intensive investigation,” said Kevin D. Sibley, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Buffalo.
Among those charged with helping Mucino are Jose Sanchez-Ocampo, 37, and Marguin Sanchez, 22. They face a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian J. Counihan said Mucino, with the assistance of Sanchez-Ocampo and Sanchez, operated the four restaurants and made all decisions regarding hiring.
Counihan also claims the majority of the workforce at the restaurants were undocumented employees who were paid in cash. The criminal complaint also claims Mucino’s employees worked six days a week, 14 hours a day and were paid $500 to $800 a week.
In the complaint against Mucino, investigators point to a former employee turned manager who cooperated with the investigation. They claim the manager was fired last year after voicing concern about the large number of undocumented employees and the restaurant’s failure to properly report its income.