Cedar Falls fugitive captured in Missouri
By Lynda Waddington 2/5/09 11:21 AM
Julio Zalapa-Urbina will soon began serving a federal sentence he was given nearly two years ago for harboring illegal aliens.

Zalapa-Urbina, 33, was arrested in St. Joseph, Missouri on Feb. 3, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa. The man had previously owned a restaurant in Cedar Falls that was raided by federal immigration authorities. Although he entered a guilty plea in the Iowa case, Zalapa-Urbina failed to appear for sentencing. On Feb. 20, 2007, he was sentenced in absentia to nearly two years in federal prison.

In April 2006 agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement searched Julio’s Restaurant and Cantina in Cedar Falls. Eleven individuals were detained and subsequently arrested for working illegally at the restaurant. Agents also seized more than $17,000 in cash from the restuarant. The business bank account, later seized by authorities, also held more than $17,000.

Days later agents returned to the restaurant and arrested another man that Zalapa-Urbina is believed to have transported from Missouri to Cedar Falls for illegal employment at the restaurant.

Agents then searched a restaurant owned by Zalapa-Urbina, a permanent resident alien from Mexico, in Missouri and detained nine additional workers. It was after this third search that Zalapa-Urbina was arrested.

When immigration agents received a tip that the man had fled to Mexico prior to his sentencing, a warrant was issued. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Linda Reade ruled that Zalapa-Urbina had waived his right to be present and proceeded to sentence him, lengthening the sentence due to his failure to appear.

Zalapa-Urbina is currently being held in the Buchanan County Jail in Missouri. An appearance date in federal court in the Northern District of Iowa has not yet been set.

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