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32 arrested in Texas, La. in restaurant bust

3 years 4 months 3 weeks ago January 30, 2014 Jan 30, 2014 Thursday, January 30 2014 January 30, 2014 3:26 PM in News
Source: Associated Press

HOUSTON - Federal authorities say they have shut down two Houston employment agencies that were recruiting immigrants living in the U.S. illegally to work in Chinese restaurants in at least seven states, including Texas, Louisiana and Maine.

Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, said Thursday that the Hong Li and the Tai Shan employment agencies provided workers, mostly from Mexico and Central America, to the restaurants.

The agencies are also accused of housing the immigrants in often cramped homes and apartments and transporting them to restaurants in various states. They said the immigrants worked 12 hours a day, six days a week with no health insurance or time off, and were paid less than minimum wage by the restaurants.

Authorities say 32 individuals were charged in two separate indictments.

Officials Thursday arrested 21 of those indicted. During the arrests, agents also took into custody nine people living in the country illegally.

IMAGE: U. S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement

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