Federal and local officials raid and delay opening of Lewiston eatery

LEWISTON — Local police and agents from the federal government raided an East Avenue restaurant Wednesday, which kept it from opening until mid-afternoon.

New China Super Buffet raid
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Disappointed customers of the New China Super Buffet in Lewiston stand around and wonder why it was closed Wednesday afternoon.

New China Super Buffet raid
Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Federal agents leave the New China Super Buffet in Lewiston on Wednesday after interviewing employees during an apparent raid.

Few details were being released but several people reported seeing armed agents from U.S. Immigrations, Customs and Enforcement, as well as Lewiston police officers at the New China Super Buffet.

One local delivery man told the Sun Journal he could not make a delivery to the restaurant because it was closed. Callers to newspaper staff said they saw what appeared to be a "horde" of law enforcement at the restaurant, which is housed in the Lewiston Mall.

According to one witness, a silver-colored van pulled up to the restaurant at about 10 a.m. and, as restaurant employees got out of the van and headed toward the restaurant, police converged on the group and ushered them inside at gunpoint.

That van is dually registered to the New China Super Buffet and to 29-year-old Chun xia Chen at the restaurant's address, 40 East Ave.

A Homeland Security van left from the back of the restaurant in the early afternoon, one witness said.

A man who appeared to work there said as he locked the doors that no arrests were made as a result of the raid.

A Lewiston Police Department spokesman said local police only assisted federal agents with security during the raid.

Many would-be diners tried the locked doors around noon and left. One couple from Portland waited outside the doors. They said they make the drive north because the food is good and is relatively inexpensive for lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays when the restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat buffet for $4.99. 

ICE agents were also at a home in Brewer and other restaurants in Maine, including the Twin Super Buffet on State Street in Brewer and the Super China Buffet in Waterville, according to WLBZ television and other media outlets.

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