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Mazatlan restaurant

Mazatlan restaurant at 70th and O streets will reopen Wednesday after being closed for more than two weeks following a federal raid.

An east Lincoln Mexican restaurant that closed for more than two weeks after federal agents raided it and arrested employees earlier this month will reopen Wednesday, the owner said Monday.

Mazatlan, just north of 70th and O streets, was closed the longest following the Nov. 8 raids at three of Abram Morales' four restaurants in the city.

That day, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents served search warrants at Mazatlan, Mazatlan II at North 27th Street and King Lane, and Las Margaritas at South 27th Street and Jamie Lane as part of an ongoing criminal probe into suspected immigration law violations.

Twenty-two workers contacted by investigators were arrested and accused of immigration violations unrelated to the criminal investigation that prompted the searches.

All but one were released later that day following federal processing.

Since then, at least two men from Mexico arrested during the raids have been detained by the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial on federal charges of illegal re-entry into the United States following deportation, a felony. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Morales' attorney, Carlos Monzon, has described those arrested as key employees.

Morales also owns El Toro at South 48th and Van Dorn streets, which was not raided. The other two restaurants reopened the day after the sting, but Mazatlan did not.

Monzon said his client has known about the investigation, which looked into other area businesses, for eight months. Morales is "completely innocent" and has nothing to hide, his attorney said Nov. 9.

No federal charges had been filed against Morales as of Monday.

Reached Monday, Morales declined to comment on the initial decision to close Mazatlan but said the last few weeks have been difficult.

"We're just going to focus on reopening this Wednesday," Morales said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

Reporter

Riley Johnson reports on breaking news and public safety issues in Lincoln and southeast Nebraska.

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