Two Indicted On Conspiracy To Violate Immigration Statutes
Maria Alvarado, Felix Chujoy Charged With Harboring, Inducing Aliens For Purpose Of Working At Harrisonburg Restaurant
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA – A pair of individuals who ran a Harrisonburg-area restaurant have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg on charges related to the inducing and harboring of aliens.
Maria Rosalba Alvarado McTague, [Alvarado], 47, and Felix Adriano Chujoy, 26, both of Harrisonburg, Va., were indicted by a federal grand jury on December 4, 2014. That indictment was unsealed Friday evening following the defendants’ arrests and initial court appearances.
Alvarado and Chujoy 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.
According to the indictment, Alvarado and Chujoy, who are originally from Peru but have since become Naturalized United States Citizens, managed Inca’s Secret, a restaurant 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 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. In exchange, the victims had to work for Alvarado and Chujoy at Inca’s Secret for six months to work off the “debt” owed for smuggling and housing the victims.
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.
In addition, the indictment alleges that when one victim in Peru refused to cross 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 which contained a variety of false and fraudulent information.
The victims were identified by a Good Samaritan who called the National Human Trafficking hotline who passed the tip onto law enforcement. The National Human Trafficking hotline can be reached at 1-888-373-7888.
The Indictment includes six counts. If convicted, the defendants could face ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for each charge.
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.