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December 12, 2022Newport News, VA, United StatesLabor Exploitation

HSI Norfolk investigation results in indictments for 4 in connection with labor trafficking, forced labor at Virginia laundry facility

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — An investigation led by Homeland Security Investigations Norfolk, commonly called HSI Norfolk, and the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force has resulted in four individuals being indicted on 33 charges, including human trafficking of individuals from Central America, benefiting from forced labor, money laundering and harboring undocumented noncitizens.

According to the investigation, Ana Patricia Landaverde, 47, of Williamsburg, Virginia; Jeffrey Dean Vaughan, 64, of Williamsburg, Virginia; and George William Evans, 68, of Midlothian, Virginia engaged in a conspiracy to harbor, transport and benefit from employing undocumented noncitizens at their commercial laundry business, Northstar Holdings of Virginia, LLC, d/b/a Magnolia Cleaning Services, LLC.

The defendants allegedly referred prospective employees lacking U.S. work authorization to a fourth defendant in the case, who allegedly supplied fraudulent identification documents such as permanent resident cards and Social Security cards.

“These indictments are a great example of what can be accomplished when federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies work in collaboration,” said Derek W. Gordon, acting special agent in charge of HSI Washington, D.C. “We will continue our collaboration with our law enforcement partners through the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force. HSI will work tirelessly to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations like this one in order to keep our communities safe from all criminal elements who would do harm to our law-abiding residents.”

The investigation further revealed that between the first quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2022, the business’ records reflect approximately 121 employees with alleged invalid or mismatched Social Security numbers, as well as wage payments of more than $1.2 million to these employees.

Landaverde, Vaughan and Evans also allegedly engaged in human trafficking from Central America and benefited from forced labor. The investigation alleges that one victim was brought to the United States at the age of 13 and forced to work nights while attending school during the day. It also alleges that the trio threatened another victim with deportation and physical violence while forcing her to pay rent to live in a commercial laundry facility where she lacked access to a kitchen, shower or bath.

“HSI Norfolk and our partners in the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force take allegations of labor exploitation very seriously,” said Jim Stitzel, assistant special agent in charge of HSI Norfolk. “We have dedicated significant resources to these criminal investigations and more importantly, to assisting the victims of these heinous crimes. We are proud to have partnered with the U.S. attorney’s office, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, the Center for Countering Human Trafficking, and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners on this investigation.”

This was an HSI Norfolk-led investigation in cooperation with the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force. Federal, state and local law enforcement partners significantly contributed to the investigation, most notably the Williamsburg Police Department, the York County Sheriff’s Office and the James City County Police Department. The Department of Homeland Security Center for Countering Human Trafficking also supported the investigation.

Since its inception, the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force has identified more than 300 victims, conducted more than 300 investigations and arrested more than 150 subjects.

“Human trafficking can occur anytime, anywhere, oftentimes in plain sight and in this case, in our own backyard,” said Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares. “I am incredibly proud of the work that Homeland Security Investigations Norfolk and the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force have done in leading this investigation.”

The 33-count indictment was unsealed Thursday and charged the four individuals with joining together to defraud and commit offenses against the United States.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents the Department of Homeland Security’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.