Saturday, May 10, 2008

Eleven arrested in smuggling scheme to staff Mexican restaurants

Five people in Western New York and six in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Georgia have been arrested and charged with smuggling illegal aliens from Mexico and forcing them to work at Mexican restaurants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement carried out the roundup after a two-year investigation.

In the scheme, 45 illegal aliens were charged $2,000 or $2,700 to be smuggled into the United States, then were paid substandard wages and were required to live in certain apartments and pay rent to the owner of the restaurants where they worked.

The situation harms other businesses, particularly other Mexican and ethnic restaurants who comply with U.S. laws and are compete for customers against those who illegally hire a labor force, and pay them substandard wages, while earning a larger profit margin.

"The ICE national strategy of worksite enforcement is essentially to level the playing field for businesses that are operating under legitimate means and do not fall victim to businesses that don't abide by those same laws," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Lev Kubiak.

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