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8 Casa Ramos workers taken into custody

Casa Ramos Mexican Restaurant opened in August at the former Hooters site at 1649 38th St. S. in Fargo. Kristen Daum / The Forum

Patrons hoping to dine at one local Mexican restaurant Wednesday were met with locked doors and no explanation.

Eight employees of Fargo's Casa Ramos Mexican Restaurant were taken into federal custody early Wednesday and could appear in U.S. District Court as early as today on charges involving false immigration documents.

The restaurant, which opened in August, employs 18 people, according to Forum archives.

West Fargo police were called at 4:20 a.m. to a duplex at 413 7th Ave. E. for a report of loud voices, stomping and the sound of people falling, said Assistant West Fargo Police Chief Mike Reitan.

Officers found eight men who appeared to range in age from 18 to 35 and had been drinking alcohol, he said.

Officers were unable to communicate with the men, who spoke Spanish, so they called for assistance from an interpreter at the U.S. Border Patrol office in Grand Forks, N.D.

Through the interpreter talking to the men over the phone, police determined they were illegally in the country and were employees at Casa Ramos Mexican Restaurant, located in the former Hooters site at 1649 38th St. S.

Restaurant owner Ben Ramos said Wednesday that he didn't know any details of the situation, but was traveling to Fargo from an out-of-town location.

Messages left at Casa Ramos were not returned, and there appeared to be no one inside the restaurant, which was closed Wednesday.

There was no sign on the door explaining why the restaurant was closed.

The restaurant seats about 240 and is usually open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays, according to a Forum archive article.

The eight men were taken to Grand Forks, where they were being processed at the U.S. Border Patrol Station on Wednesday afternoon, said Bryce Koether, a public affairs officer with the patrol.

The men could face either deportation or federal criminal charges, Koether said.

However, it's most likely the men will face charges involving false documents and could go in front of a U.S. magistrate judge as early as today, Koether said.

It appeared Wednesday evening that the charges hadn't yet been filed, according to a federal court database online.