Indiana Excise Police have seized about $3M dollars in U.S. currency, 12 vehicles and an undisclosed amount of foreign currency following a raid on several local Acapulco Mexican restaurants, businesses and residences.
Also 41 arrests were made in connection with the case.
The seizures began on Monday, September 24 after excise police had been investigating alleged illegal practices within the restaurants for nearly two years.
The Versailles location was among those listed in the affidavit where a number of crimes have been charged. Owner of the Lawrenceburg, Aurora, and Rising Sun restaurants and part owner of the Batesville and Versailles businesses is Adolfo Lopez, who has been arrested. One of the owners of the Batesville restaurant, Benito Lopez, has not been located and police believe he is currently in Mexico. It is not known if another owner, Abel Bustos, has been arrested yet.
All of those who were arrested are being held at the Dearborn County Jail pending hearings. However, Prosecutor Aaron Negangard has noted that bond will be taken under advisement saying he believes they are a flight risk.
The investigation is centered in Dearborn County, therefore those arrested are being held there, and the proceedings will take place in their courts. Excise Cpl. Travis Thickstun noted that the court proceedings can be lengthy. All of the restaurants have been closed until the legal process has been exhausted meaning re-opening of the restaurants, if at all, could be a long time.
Charges include the restaurant owners not documenting and paying the proper amount of sales tax, under reporting sales meaning they were not paying the correct amount of money on their tax returns.
Cpl. Thickstun said the police weren't as concerned with illegal immigrants - as some people initially thought when the restaurants began to be raided – but were more concerned with corrupt business and identity theft. He said the restaurants had more than 80 employees who were using fake or stolen social security numbers.
Police say only credit card sales were reported, not cash transactions. Cpl. Thickstun did say it was a good idea for diners to check their credit report to see if their card had been misused.
The affidavit revealed that there was a discrepancy between the goods sold and the price listed. It noted that typically there is a 4 to 7 percent mark up at Mexican restaurants. At the Batesville store the record shows a 2.15 percent mark up with gross sales in 2009 at $789,729 and a cost of goods listed at $367,137 on sales tax forms.
Officers also noticed that when visiting the restaurants the cash register drawers were open and customer bills were not run up on the register, but on an adding machine, with the tape attached to the customer's guest checks.
The affidavit showed that employees with fraudulent social security numbers were not filing state tax forms. It also alleged that owners of the Batesville restaurant, Benito and Aldolfo had committed crimes of perjury, forgery, corrupt business influence, including money laundering.
Police were at the Batesville and Versailles locations most of the day on Monday, taking out a variety of things, including boxes of items, along with store stock. Those watching the events unfold also saw arrests being made as they filed out of the businesses.
The ball began rolling nearly two years ago when an officer noticed irregularities concerning the alcohol beverage permits. Excise officers were assisted throughout the investigation by the Dearborn County Special Crimes Unit, Dearborn County Sheriff's Office, Lawrenceburg Police Department and the Indiana Department of Revenue.
The agencies worked together to ensure that the raids went down exactly as they had planned. They were swift and concise.
The Indiana State Excise Police officers are the enforcement arm of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.