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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Bardstown restaurant manager arrested for harboring illegal aliens

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested the manager of a local restaurant Monday on charges of harboring illegal aliens employed at his restaurant. The charges resulted from an ICE criminal worksite enforcement investigation.

Ji Quan Yang, 40, of 523 Bloomfield Road, Bardstown, was arrested Dec. 7 and charged Tuesday in federal court with harboring illegal aliens.

According to an ICE agent's affidavit, Yang is the president of Asian Garden Inc., doing business as the China Star Buffet and Grill, 317 Kentucky Home Square, Bardstown. During the investigation, ICE agents observed young Asian and Hispanic workers being transported from a duplex at 121-123 Caldwell Ave., Bardstown, to the China Star Buffet and Grill where they were employed. Yang owns the vehicles and the duplex. Further investigation revealed that several workers were illegal aliens who had been brought to Kentucky by Yang, and who reported working 72 to 80 hours per week for cash derived from dividing the tips.

ICE agents initiated the investigation in December 2006 after receiving credible information that illegal aliens were employed at the restaurant. U.S. Attorney David L. Huber praised the efforts of the ICE agents for the quality of their investigation and for their diligent and effective response to this serious crime.

"Bringing criminal charges against unscrupulous employers and targeting their illegal profits are tactics we are adopting nationwide," said Jerry Phillips, resident agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Louisville. "ICE has found criminal sanctions to be a very effective deterrent to illegal employment schemes."

ICE has dramatically enhanced its efforts to combat employers who unlawfully employ illegal aliens in the United States. The agency's strategy for effective worksite enforcement is aimed at promoting national security, protecting critical infrastructure, and ensuring fair labor standards. During fiscal year 2007, ICE worksite investigations resulted in 863 arrests on criminal charges and 4,077 administrative arrests of illegal workers on immigration violations.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Fentress, Western District of Kentucky. If convicted, Yang faces a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years supervised release.