STILLWATER, Okla. - One week after federal raids at two popular restaurants in Stillwater, a criminal complaint affidavit was filed in federal court accusing the assistant manager of El Vaquero of Conspiracy to Harbor Certain Aliens, and Conspiracy to Possess False Documents.
In the affidavit is says Hector Flores-Contrares told federal agents in the day of the raids he “hired illegal aliens because they are hard workers.”
He went on to say he was in charge of scheduling and would make employees work six days a week, ten hours per day.
“I used to eat there regularly. It was a good place to eat,” Stillwater resident Noah Jackson said. “I didn’t know any of that was going on there.”
Flores is the only person mentioned by name in the affidavit, but it also mentions a known co-conspirator.
On the day of the raids, an employee told agents he had to pay “$500 to $800 cash out of each check to repay the $6,000 in smugglers’ fees.”
He said he made those payments for two and a half years.
He also told agents up to five men shared a small two-bedroom home directly behind El Vaquero that they had to pay rent for as well.
Stillwater resident Scott Morie didn’t know El Vaquero was closed and stopped to try and have lunch at the restaurant on Wednesday.
He was shocked when he learned about the charges.
“We don’t think of Stillwater as really that bad of a place to be, kind of a small town compared to Oklahoma City and Tulsa,” Moore told News 4. “Yet to know these things are happening here. I guess it’s happening everywhere, and unfortunately, it’s getting worse.”
El Vaquero remains closed but Palomino’s, the other restaurant involved in the raids, is back open.
News 4 reached out to Palomino’s, but a person identifying themselves as a manager declined to comment.