Owners of Chinese Restaurants in Rio Rancho and Santa Fe Charged With Harboring Illegal Aliens
ALBUQUERQUE – Wen Ping Chen, 28, and his brother Wen Qiu Chen, 30, made their initial appearances in federal court this morning on criminal complaints charging them with conspiracy and harboring illegal aliens. Ping Chen and Qiu Chen, both naturalized U.S. Citizens born in China, remain in custody pending detention hearings which are scheduled for tomorrow.
The brothers were arrested yesterday afternoon by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents following an investigation into allegations that they were harboring illegal aliens who worked at their restaurants, the Double Dragon Restaurant in Rio Rancho, N.M., which is owned and operated by Ping Chen, and the Double Dragon II, in Santa Fe, N.M., which is owned and operated by Qiu Chen.
According to court filings, in Oct. 2012, HSI agents executed search warrants at the Double Dragon and a Rio Rancho residence owned by Ping Chen and Qiu Chen. The agents allegedly found three illegal aliens at the Double Dragon and another illegal alien in the residence, which served as the residence for all four aliens. All four illegal aliens allegedly worked for Ping Chen at the Double Dragon without authorization.
In May 2013, HSI agents executed search warrants at the Double Dragon II and a Santa Fe residence owned by Qiu Chen, and allegedly found five illegal aliens at the Double Dragon II. The agents allegedly learned that all of the Double Dragon II employees resided in the Santa Fe residence owned by Qiu Chen. The five illegal aliens allegedly worked for Qiu Chen at the Double Dragon II without authorization.
If convicted on the conspiracy charge, Ping Chen and Qiu Chen each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison. If convicted on the harboring charge, each man faces a maximum of ten years in prison. Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
These cases were investigated by the Albuquerque office of HSI and are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman Cairns.