Owner of Azteca Mexican restaurants faces deportation

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – A Quad City businessman is facing deportation: the owner of the Azteca Mexican restaurants, Gustavo Villalpando.

His arrest was part of nationwide operation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

His daughter Sonia Villalpando said it’s business as usual at Azteca. She said she wants people to know that her father was not a threat to the community and their family plans to continue on his legacy at their restaurants across the Quad Cities.

“Right now my dad is being held in Wisconsin due to immigration,” said Sonia. “My dad is a lot of things but a threat. He’s not. He’s a husband, a father, he’s a grandfather. He has helped a lot of people, a lot of organizations, a lot of booster clubs.”

Gustavo is facing deportation. He was arrested last week by ICE in a nation-wide operation called “Cross Check”. In five days, over 2,000 convicted criminal aliens were arrested.

“Somebody who has two felony convictions on the record and a prior deportation is not somebody that we really want to open our communities to,” said spokesperson for ICE Shawn Neudauer.

He said Gustavo’s convictions involve human smuggling and harboring/transportation of illegal aliens.

“It is a crime, despite the reasons he did it,” said Sonia. “But I think because somebody once did it for him, he wanted to do it for them.”

Neudauer said Gustavo also had a prior order of deportation on his record.

“You commit a crime and years and years later you regret that and you pay the price and you turn into a much better person and that’s all relatively good but for law enforcement purposes you have a criminal record and that will forever change you,” said Neudauer.

Sonia said her father’s convictions are back from 1997 and at this point they’re not sure what they can do.

“I know he had a couple of attorneys working on his case, but I guess it was too late,” she said. “I’ll be here, I’ll be taking over. I’ll be helping and I’ll be open to the community. I’ll be here for them, just like my dad was.”

Sonia said her father had plans to expand the Azteca brand, but they have put those projects on hold for now.

It’s unknown when Gustavo will be deported to Mexico.

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