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Worksite Enforcement

Howard County restaurant owner arrested following worksite investigation

BALTIMORE - The owner of a Hanover, Md., Chinese restaurant was arrested Feb. 16 for harboring illegal aliens after a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigation.

The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and ICE Special Agent in Charge William Winter.

Yen Wan Cheng, 54, was arrested on charges of transporting, employing and harboring illegal aliens. She was taken into custody without incident.

"Companies who knowingly hire illegal aliens are not only breaking the law, they are also creating a magnet that draws foreign nationals to enter the United States illegally," said William Winter, Special Agent in Charge for ICE in Baltimore. "ICE is committed to investigating employers who engage in illegal employment schemes that utilize illegal labor to make an unlawful profit."

The criminal complaint alleges that, between January 2009 and February 4, 2010, Cheng knowingly hired aliens who were not authorized to work in the United States, transported the aliens to their jobs, and harbored them in residences she provided. According to the criminal complaint, five aliens were specifically identified during the investigation as working at the restaurant and residing in a home Cheng owns in Columbia, Md.

Cheng faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison for employing illegal aliens and five years in prison each for transporting illegal aliens, harboring aliens and harboring aliens for financial gain.

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

ICE's Office of Investigations area of investigative responsibilities includes a worksite enforcement unit that promotes national security, protects critical infrastructure and ensures fair labor standards.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Cunningham.