No better way to celebrate Juneteenth than by busting a San Jose couple charged with luring immigrants to California with promises of work only to force them into working long hours for close to no pay and live in inhuman squalor.
Mercury News‘s Leslie Griffy reported today about Paula Luna Alvarez and Carlos Contreras Del Carmen, who now face counts of harboring illegal immigrants, Social Security fraud and international money laundering.
During the couple’s bail hearing on Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Connell, these charges are just the “tip of the iceberg.” O’Connell told Magistrate Judge Richard Seeborg that the couple were directly involved with human trafficking.
Del Carmen, he said, acted as the recruiter for the restaurant workers, persuading “people in Mexico with false promises to work.” The couple, according to court documents, forged Social Security numbers for at least three illegal immigrants who lived in their home.
Last week, FBI and other law enforcement officials searched two restaurants on Story Road, El Naranjo in the Tropicana shopping center and El Mezquite Taqueria. Agents found four other possibly illegal immigrants in the couple’s home, FBI spokesman Joseph Schadler said. Schadler said the investigation is ongoing, and some court documents are sealed.
Both businesses–small store fronts owned by a company in Alvarez’s name–were shuttered Thursday.