SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The owner of dozens of Mexican restaurants in several states, including the company’s president, CFO, controller, and sales manager: are among 19 defendants charged in a federal racketeering plot to hire undocumented workers.
One of the restaurants is in Springfield. Federal agents have so far arrested 14 of the 19 defendants.
The federal indictment claims that 17 of the 19 co-defendants were part of an organized illegal activity from July 2003 to Aug. 10, 2021, that smuggled Mexican, Guatemalan, and El Salvadoran nationals who were not authorized to live or work in the United States.
A network of restaurants operating as LLCs in states throughout the Midwest allegedly harbored them in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Jose Luis Bravo, Doll, Tarin-Martinez, and Jose Razo created a network of restaurants operating as LLCs in states throughout the Midwest.
According to federal officials, Bravo and his co-conspirators allegedly supplied these restaurants with undocumented workers to staff positions at the restaurants. Bravo is also the owner of Specialty Food Distribution in Joplin. Bravo is also the owner of a group of restaurants registered as Bravos Group, LLC, including El Charro, El Charrito, Playa Azul, Itza, LLC, Cantina Bravo, and El Chango.
According to the indictment, associates did not pay the appropriate state and federal payroll taxes, overtime wages, and worker’s compensation for unauthorized employees.
In addition to smuggling and harboring undocumented workers, the indictment alleges the racketeering activity included fraud (in connection with identification documents), misuse of visas and other documents, and money laundering.
Members and associates of the criminal enterprise shielded unauthorized employees from detection by immigration authorities by eliminating records of their employment, paying them by personal check and in cash, failing to maintain complete and accurate Forms I-9 and required wage and hour reports for these employees, assisting them with the acquisition of false identification documents (such as Social Security numbers and alien resident documents), and making false statements to immigration authorities and law enforcement officials.