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Restaurant managers accused of smuggling workers into Virginia; paying $1.50 an hour

Posted at 2:05 PM, Dec 17, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-17 14:05:22-05

HARRINSONBURG — Two restaurant managers were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to smuggling immigrants into Virginia, according to the FBI.

Maria Rosalba Alvarado McTague, [Alvarado], 47, and Felix Adriano Chujoy, 26, have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to violate immigration statutes, two counts of harboring an alien, and two counts of inducing an alien for financial gain. In addition, Alvarado has been charged with one count of visa fraud.

The defendants are from Peru, but both are American citizens. They managed Inca’s Secret in Harrisonburg.

“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 at Inca’s Secret,” the Justice Department indicated in a statement. “The defendants promised to help smuggle the victims into the United States, told victims they would be paid for working at the restaurant and that they would be provided a place to live.”

The workers were told they had to work at the restaurant for six months to pay off their smuggling “debt.”

However, once arriving in the United States, the indictment alleges, victims were 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. Alvarado and Chujoy housed the victims at their home and, according to the indictment, the victims did not feel free to leave. Other documents unsealed at the initial appearance reflect that Alvarado and Chujoy controlled the victims through isolation, threats, and harassment.

Someone called the National Human Trafficking hotline (1-888-373-7888) and reported the restaurant to investigators. If convicted on the charges Alvarado and Chujoy could face 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for each charge.