Witnesses describe the raids on four local Mexican restaurants

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Four popular Mexican restaurants were shut down after a major raid Tuesday morning. The owner is accused of hiring undocumented immigrants.

The restaurants are located in Buffalo, Cheektowaga, and Kenmore.

Federal agents and police carried a safe and other evidence out of Don Tequila on Allen Street around noon.

“ATF, Border Patrol, ICE, all just swarming the building, entering the building,” said Kenneth Kelchlin, a bystander. “They told us not to move, I was working in this store front right here.”

He said he wasn’t surprised.

“It was pretty incredible,” said Kelchlin. “It was only a matter of time before they were going to come and do something.”

At Agave on Elmwood Ave., viewers captured a man being arrested. They watched as agents shut down the restaurant.

“It was like bees around a honey nest,” said Joe Reno, who was drinking coffee next door at Panera when the raid happened. “After quite a while, they came out with a computer, looked like a safe a lot of papers, piled it all into the car.”

Meanwhile, at La Divina in Kenmore, agents collected evidence in the grocery store and restaurant. News 4 watched as officers counted the money in the cash register and left with bags of evidence.

“It’s unbelievably disappointing because they were unbelievably successful,” said Larry Bicz, who is working on a property down the road from La Divina.

El Agave was closed when News 4 crews arrived around 1:30 p.m.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office told News 4 the owner, 42-year-old Sergio Ramses Mucino, hired mostly undocumented immigrants and paid them weekly in cash. After paying those employees, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said each business makes about $50,000 in cash per week, which was not being reported for state or federal taxes.

“It was inevitable,” said Bicz. “There was talk among the community in very recent times they were concerned about the legality of some people’s positions in the area.”

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