Owners of Mexican restaurant in Niagara Falls plead guilty in trafficking case

Local News

El Cubilete Mexican Restaurant (via Google Earth)

(WIVB) — The owners of El Cubilete Mexican Restaurant in Niagara Falls pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to harbor aliens for financial gain and causing serious bodily injury, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Roberto Montes-Villalpando, 60, of Sanborn, and Abraham Montes, 28, of North Tonawanda, both pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo.

Prosecutors from the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division allege the defendants recruited and hired undocumented foreign nationals who had entered the United States illegally to work for them.

Procesutors say four victims, all citizens of Mexico, lived in an apartment rented by Montes-Villalpando and were paid less than minimum wage while working at the restaurant between 2014 and 2018. They were collectively shorted more than $80,000, according to the press release.

Prosecutors also allege Montes once struck one of the victims in the head with a fire extinguisher, punched him in the nose and threatened to kill him. The victim was treated for a broken nose and a head laceration that required staples to close.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 14.

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