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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Owners of Chinese Restaurants in Rio Rancho and Santa Fe Sentenced to Probation for Harboring Illegal Aliens and Violating Minimum and Overtime Wage Laws

ALBUQUERQUE – Wen Ping Chen, 30, of Rio Rancho, N.M., and his brother Wen Qiu Chen, 31, of Santa Fe, N.M., were each sentenced this afternoon to two years of probation for harboring illegal aliens and violating the federal minimum and overtime wage laws.  Ping Chen and Qui Chen were also ordered to forfeit a residence located on Aztec Court in Rio Rancho that was used to facilitate the Chens’ criminal conduct.  Although the amount of restitution to be paid by the Chen brothers will be determined at a later date, the court noted that the restitution order would be no less than $120,000.

Ping Chen and Qiu Chen, both naturalized U.S. Citizens born in China, were arrested in Aug. 2013, following an investigation into allegations that they were harboring illegal aliens who worked at their restaurants, the Double Dragon Restaurant in Rio Rancho., which is owned and operated by Ping Chen, and the Double Dragon II, in Santa Fe, which is owned and operated by Qiu Chen.  The brothers subsequently were charged in a seven-count superseding indictment alleging conspiracy, alien harboring, and failing to pay minimum and overtime wages.

According to court filings, in Oct. 2012, federal agents executed search warrants at the Double Dragon and a Rio Rancho residence owned by Ping Chen and Qiu Chen.  The agents found three illegal aliens at the Double Dragon and another illegal alien at the residence, which served as the residence for all four aliens.  All four illegal aliens worked for Ping Chen at the Double Dragon without authorization.

In May 2013, federal agents executed search warrants at the Double Dragon II and a Santa Fe residence owned by Qiu Chen, and found five illegal aliens at the Double Dragon II.  The agents learned that all of the Double Dragon II employees resided in the Santa Fe residence owned by Qiu Chen.   The five illegal aliens worked for Qiu Chen at the Double Dragon II without authorization.

On Dec. 12, 2014, Qui Chen pled guilty to Counts 5 and 7 of the superseding indictment charging him with harboring an illegal alien and failing to pay minimum and overtime wages.  Ping Chen pled guilty to Counts 3 and 7 charging him with harboring an illegal aliens and failure to pay minimum and overtime wages.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of HSI and the U.S. Department of Labor, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Norman Cairns and Raquel Ruiz-Velez.

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Updated July 1, 2015