3 Indicted on Labor Trafficking-Related Charges

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) - Two Harrisonburg restaurant operators and a third person face federal charges related to labor trafficking and witness tampering.

A superseding indictment unsealed Thursday says 47-year-old Maria Rosalba Alvarado McTague and 26-year-old Felix Adriano Chujoy employed illegal immigrants at Inca's Secret, which they managed. They also are accused of housing other illegal immigrants in their residence.

The indictment charges that Alvarado traveled to Peru to recruit workers for the restaurant. Once they arrived in the U.S., the illegal immigrants generally were forced to work seven days per week, 12 hours per day. They also had to provide services outside their restaurant work.

Alvardo and Chujoy, along with 32-year-old Gladys Georgette Chujoy, also are charged with trying to prevent victims from testifying in the federal case.

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Department of Justice News Release:

HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA – Three individuals, including two operators of a Harrisonburg restaurant, have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg on charges related to labor trafficking and witness tampering.

Maria Rosalba Alvarado McTague, [Alvarado], 47, Felix Adriano Chujoy, 26, and Gladys Georgette Chujoy, 32, all of Harrisonburg, Va., were charged in a superseding indictment filed under seal on Thursday, March 12, 2015 and unsealed today following the arrest and initial appearances of all three defendants.

According to the superseding indictment, Alvarado and F. Chujoy, who are originally from Peru but have become naturalized United States citizens, managed Inca's Secret, a restaurant in Harrisonburg, Va. As part of the alleged labor trafficking conspiracy, Alvarado is accused of making regular trips to Peru where she attempted to recruit victims to immigrate illegally to the United States for the purpose of working unlawfully at Inca's Secret. According to the indictment, Alvarado promised to help smuggle the victims into the United States, told victims they would be paid for working at the restaurant, and agreed to provide the victims a place to live in the basement of her and F. Chujoy's home. In exchange, the victims had to work for Alvarado and F. Chujoy at Inca's Secret for six months to work off the “debt” owed for smuggling and housing the victims.

According to the indictment, when a victim in Peru refused to cross the Mexican border and enter into the United States illegally, Alvarado arranged to have a visa application submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Peru on behalf of the victim. The application contained a variety of false and fraudulent information.

Upon arriving in the United States, the indictment alleges, the victims were generally forced to work 12-hours per day, seven days per week, and provide services outside of their work at the restaurant. The victims were paid approximately $450 per month, effectively resulting in an hourly wage of less than $1.50 per hour. Other documents unsealed at a previous court hearing reflect that Alvarado and F. Chujoy controlled the victims through isolation, threats, and harassment.

In addition, to the trafficking allegations, the indictment also alleges that Alvarado and F. Chujoy employed illegal aliens at the restaurant and housed others in their home. 

G. Chujoy, along with the other two defendants, are also accused of attempting to influence, delay, or prevent victims in this case from testifying at official proceedings. The indictment alleges that Alvarado, F. Chujoy, and G. Chujoy conspired to tamper with witnesses. Alvarado and F. Chujoy were previously indicted, arrested and appeared in federal court on related charges on December 12, 2014. The court released both defendants on bond at that time. The witness tampering is alleged to have occurred while the defendants were on supervised release pending trial on the previous charges in this case.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Commonwealth of Virginia Attorney General's Office. Assistant United States Attorney Heather Carlton is prosecuting the case for the United States.

A Grand Jury Indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial with the burden on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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