jimmy123 | Jul 12, 200702:30 PM     6

I just saw this on the news.


>>Restaurant Arrests Spark Anger In Wheaton

Law enforcement officials raided a popular restaurant late Thursday morning in Wheaton.

Police said that owners of the El Pollo Rico restaurant were employing and harboring illegal aliens, money laundering and fraud in connection with the operation of restaurant.

Police have charged Francisco Carlos Solano, 55, his wife Ines Solano, 59, both of Germantown, Md.; Francisco's sister Consuelo Solano, 69, of Arlington, Va. and brother Juan Faustino Solano, 57, of Kensington, Md., in connection with the case.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Francisco, Consuelo and Juan Solano are natives of Peru, and Ines Solano is a native of Columbia, who became naturalized U.S. citizens. Francisco and Consuelo own the El Pollo Rico restaurant.

Authorities said the group employed numerous illegal aliens at the restaurant, paying employees in cash until the employee obtained temporary status, at which time they were paid by check.

Employees were also allegedly housed in residences owned by Francisco Solano in Wheaton and Kensington.

Court documents charge that from June 5, 2002 until Sept. 29, 2006, over 800 deposits in amounts ranging from about $7,000 to $9,000 each, totaling nearly $7 million, were made into an El Pollo Rico business account. The deposits were allegedly made in order to avoid triggering the filing of a currency transaction report required for amounts in excess of $10,000. Authorities said that on 15 occasions more than one deposit of less than $10,000 was made on the same day, at the same branch bank, often within hours of each other.

According to authorities, most of the deposits from the restaurant proceeds were allegedly made by Francisco or Ines Solano.

Agents seized over $2 million in cash and jewelry from residences of the defendants, and several vehicles. More than six illegal aliens employed or harbored by the defendants have also been arrested, authorities said.

As police raided the restaurant Thursday, several people were arrested during the incident that spilled out into the parking lot outside Pollo Rico, officials said.

Shortly after the raid, rumors of immigration arrests spread throughout the community, which is heavily populated by Latinos, causing several witnesses to become angry, News4's Jackie Bensen said.

According to Bensen, that anger appeared to boil over when a crowd in the shopping center where Pollo Rico is located witnessed a tow truck towing an SUV that belonged to a restaurant employee.

The tow truck was taking the vehicle away because it violated the parking time limit, Bensen said. The move caused an angry exchange between witnesses and the tow truck driver.

Friends of the SUV owner teamed up to pull the vehicle off of the tow truck, Bensen said. The owner then left the scene in the vehicle.

Montgomery County police then arrived to defuse the scene, Bensen said.

The defendants each face a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

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