Twenty-six New Yorkers are being charged with money laundering and human trafficking for their roles in a “complex criminal scheme” that included smuggling and employing illegal aliens from China.
Federal officials busted 23 of the suspects this week after an eight-month investigation (codenamed “Operation Gateway”) led by federal prosecutors and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Most of the suspects were arrested at their “employment agencies” in Chinatown, although three remain at-large.
Prosecutors say the defendants had conspired to smuggle Chinese aliens into the United States and pocketed up to $75,000 for each alien they smuggled in. (That “smuggling fee” typically came from the alien’s family.)
The smugglers are also accused of referring the illegal aliens to local restaurant owners and managers who employed them at below minimum wage and harbored them in “crowded and unsanitary conditions.”
If convicted, the various charges carry maximum sentences of ten to twenty years in prison.’Meanwhile, here are some restaurants you’ll probably want to avoid tonight: