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Press Release

Operators Of Sushi House Restaurant At Jacksonville Town Center Plead Guilty To Harboring Illegal Aliens

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Jacksonville, Florida – Min Lin (35) and He Ying Qiu (46), both of Jacksonville, have pleaded guilty to harboring illegal aliens for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain. Each faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to their plea agreements, Lin and Qiu are married and own and operate the Sushi House restaurant located at the Town Center shopping complex in Jacksonville. After receiving a tip from a concerned citizen, federal agents conducted an investigation and discovered that employees were being transported in a van, driven by Qiu, between the Sushi House and two residences owned by Lin. On January 29, 2018, officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) stopped the van as it was coming from Sushi House, after it had closed for business that day. Qiu was driving the van and Lin was in the front seat passenger. Four passengers in the van appeared to be aliens who were illegally present in the United States.

On June 5, 2018, law enforcement agents executed search warrants at the Sushi House and the two residences owned by Lin. Before the warrants were executed, a JSO officer stopped the van Qiu was driving near the Sushi House. Two of the passengers, who were also in the van when it was stopped on January 29, 2018, were found to be illegally present in the United States. During the execution of the warrant at one of the residences, agents encountered two more aliens who were also found to be illegally present in the United States. They had also been passengers in the van during the previous strop.

Upon questioning, each of the four aliens admitted to being illegally present in the United States. They stated that they worked at the Sushi House and were paid in cash with no taxes withheld from their pay. They also stated that they lived at the residence rent-free, that Qiu took them to and from work, and that neither Lin nor Qiu had asked them to provide documents to establish that they were legally authorized to work in the United States. Employers are required by law to obtain such documents before hiring any employee. During the search of the residence, agents found identification, mail, photographs, and other documents belonging to the aliens and others.

As part of their plea agreements, Lin and Qiu agreed to forfeit the residence and the van they had used to transport the aliens.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arnold B. Corsmeier.

Updated October 3, 2018

Human Smuggling