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Indictment: Mexican Restaurants Were Front For Drug Conspiracy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Twin Cities man is wanted by federal authorities, accused of using his businesses as a front to distribute drugs.

The indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota laid out 46 counts against Aldo Escoto, the former owner of El Parian restaurants.

The cantinas are located in Eagan, Long Lake and Lakeville.

According to court documents, Escoto used the restaurants to hide his criminal enterprise.

The 22-page indictment follows the inner workings of Escoto's six-year business, in which he used the restaurants to launder money, harbor and employ illegal workers, and sell meth, cocaine and marijuana.

Escoto's operation moved drugs from California to Minnesota.

The indictments calls for the forfeiture of four houses in Eagan and Lakeville as well as several luxury cars, all believed purchased with drug money.

Officials say Escoto would sometimes force his illegal workers to live in houses he'd purchase near his restaurants, and force them to pay rent.

Luis Caire, a consultant for the new owners of El Parian restaurants, says the business now has nothing to do with Escoto.

Caire says all three locations have new owners, all of which knew nothing about the former owner's activities.

"There is no undocumented persons working at the restaurant," Caire said. "As far as we know, there is no claims against the restaurant."

For now, Caire says the new owners are focused on cooking great Mexican cuisine that keeps people coming back.

If convicted, Escoto would also have to forfeit more than $100,000 in cash confiscated from three of the properties he purchased.

Currently, Escoto is at large.

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