NEW YORK - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced today charges against 26 individuals for operating an international alien smuggling ring, 23 of whom were taken in custody.
The defendants allegedly participated in various facets of the alien smuggling industry, including: transportation of illegal aliens from China to the United States; laundering the proceeds of illegal alien smuggling from the United States to China; and employing illegal aliens. Of the 26 defendants charged, 23 were arrested this morning, and three - Mao Ping Li, Yi Min Ren, and Moi Ha Chek. remain at large. The defendants arrested today are expected to be presented in Manhattan federal court later today.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: "These defendants allegedly trafficked in human beings, making money off the backs of illegal immigrants and treating them like chattel. Today's arrests are the result of commendable investigative work by our partners at HSI. We will continue to work together with HSI and our other partners to break the cycle of illegal activity."
James T. Hayes, Jr., special agent in charge of ICE HSI in New York said: "The targets of this investigation are business owners and smugglers who allegedly sought to enrich themselves by depriving their employees of basic human rights and freedoms guaranteed under our Constitution. The human smugglers and money remittance business owners are alleged to have funneled funds into and out of the United States in furtherance of this complex criminal scheme and in violation of U.S. Banking laws. As this investigation reinforces, criminal worksite enforcement investigations of egregious employers remain a priority of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in New York City and throughout the country."
According to indictments unsealed yesterday in Manhattan federal court and the record of the case:
Six defendants, Fnu Lnu, "Monkey," Fnu Lnu, "Ma Bell," Fnu Lnu, "Huang Fei," "Aizhen Lin," Fnu Lnu, aka "She," Kenny Kwon, and Bao Tai Huang, smuggled or conspired to smuggle aliens from China to the United States from April through October 2010. The smugglers typically charged approximately $75,000 to smuggle each alien into the United States. Those fees were often collected from the family members of the aliens.
Three more defendants, Fnu Lnu, aka "Huang Fei,"aka "Aizhen Lin," Fnu Lnu-1, and Fnu Lnu-2, were charged in additional indictments with money laundering in connection with the movement of money from the United States to China. The defendants, who operated in connection with commercial money transmittal businesses, knew or had reason to know they were laundering the proceeds of alien smuggling, for the purpose of concealing the movement of the proceeds or avoiding transaction reporting requirements.
Eighteen defendants, Kui Lin, Yi Min Ren,Yung Sun Shau, Yung Fai Shau, Ah Cheng Siew, Mao Ping Li, Fnu Lnu, Frank Kwok, David Cheng, Steven Lau, Fnu LnU, aka "Yang," Sai Zhen Chen, Xing Chen, Fnu Lnu, aka "Cindy," Guo Hua Ke, Hulian Yu, Hook Chok, aka "Henry," and Moi Ha Check, aka "Christine," harbored illegal aliens for the purpose of commercial advantage or financial gain. Certain of these defendants operated employment agencies in the Chinatown neighborhood of Manhattan. For a fee, they referred illegal aliens to restaurant owners and managers, who in turn employed the illegal aliens. The aliens were often employed at below minimum wage and were often housed in crowded and unsanitary conditions.
If convicted of the charges alleged in the indictments, Fnu Lnu, aka "Monkey," and Fnu Lnu, aka "Ma Bell," face a maximum sentence of fifteen years and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison; Fnu Lnu, aka "She," and Kenny Kwon face a maximum sentence of ten years in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison; and Fnu Lnu, aka "Huang Fei," aka "Aizhen Lin," and Bao Tai Huang, face a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.
The money laundering charges carry a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison.
If convicted of the charges alleged in the indictments, the employment agency and restaurant owner defendants face a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.
Mr. Bharara praised the efforts of HSI and thanked the U.S. Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General, Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations for their assistance. He added that the investigation is continuing. This case is being handled by the Office's Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chi T. Steve Kwok and Peter Skinner and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney John Reh are in charge of the prosecution.