By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
Andrade Auto Exchange opened for business earlier today after being closed Tuesday and Wednesday during a federal investigation.
Employees have returned, but some equipment and paperwork was taken in the course of the investigation which hampered service.
The lots were closed Tuesday when agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation along with Kansas Bureau of Investigation officers and local law enforcement took control of the lots and asked the employees to leave the premises.
One employee, Jorge Almeida, was taken into custody and has been held at the Seward County Jail since Tuesday afternoon, but no charges have been publicly released.
The lots remained closed Wednesday while the FBI continued to execute the search warrant.
According to the US attorney’s office in Wichita, no charges on the case have been filed as of 11:30 a.m.
Owner Mike Andrade was expected to make a statement today. See www.hpleader.com for updates.
Daily Leader staff report
Officers with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Liberal Police Department closed down Liberal’s two Andrade’s Auto Exchange locations, the one at 1533 W. Pancake Blvd. and this one at 1030 N. Kansas Ave., shortly after noon Tuesday. Yellow crime scene tape was put up around both locations as authorities talked with employees and gathered evidence. The LPD evidence van was at this location for most of the afternoon Tuesday. Sources have confirmed one employee of the company’s south car lot, Jorge Almeida, was taken into custody. A spokesman at the Seward County Jail confirmed Tuesday evening that Almeida was in custody. A spokesman for the Seward County District Attorney’s office said no paperwork concerning Almeida had been received at their office as of 9:50 a.m. today. Liberal Police Capt. Pat McClurg referred all questions about the investigation to FBI Spokesperson Bridgett Patton in Kansas City FBI office. Patton said yesterday afternoon,"We are executing a search warrant in furtherance of an ongoing matter." A check with Patton at 9:16 a.m. today did not reveal any additional information. “At this time, we have no further information to release other than what I said yesterday,” she explained. Daily Leader photo/Larry Phillips