8 indicted, 39 arrested in illegal immigration sweep

Eight metro Atlanta business owners were indicted Friday in connection with an illegal immigration sweep that nabbed nearly 40 illegal immigrants Thursday.

In addition, two restaurant owners and another individual were arrested Thursday in connection with this operation, authorities said.

Three employment agencies in Chamblee were raided Thursday by FBI and ICE agents for providing jobs to illegal immigrants.

"These defendants allegedly provided jobs that frequently exploited the workers by subjecting them to long shifts, six days a week, often with substandard pay and living conditions," U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian-Yates said in a statement. "On top of that, the defendants took large deductions from the workers' pay to reimburse themselves for the costs of the employment agencies' illegal services."

All of the defendants face federal conspiracy charges for allegedly inducing undocumented aliens to enter and remain in the U.S. by providing them with employment, predominantly at Chinese restaurants,

Those named on the three federal indictments were Pili Chen, 55, of Tucker; Ai Lin Fu, 40, of Norcross; Chun Yan Lin, 44, of Chamblee; Xiang Mei Ke, 32, of Duluth; Jing Xing Jiang, 42, of Lawrenceville; Liang Feng Chen, 32, of Duluth; Chunbiao Xu, 33 of Norcross; and Sau Ting Cheng, 41, also of Duluth.

Lin, Fu and Pili Chin owned three Chamblee employment agencies -- "New Fuzhou," "Zhong Mei," and "Lucky" -- that allegedly advertised in Asian-language newspapers and Web sites about jobs.

They placed illegal immigrants mainly in restaurant jobs in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Pennsylvania, according to court officials.

The agencies didn't require or ask for proof of permission to live or work in the U.S., and charged the undocumented workers a commission and transportation fee -- as high as $500 -- to place them in jobs and/or take them to the jobs.

In other cases, the restaurants were charged, and the restaurant would, in turn, deduct the fees from the illegal worker's pay.

Ke, Jiang, Chen and Cheng hired employees through these illegal agencies to work in either Hong Kong Super buffet in Gainesville, in Lawrenceville's Fuji Buffet, or in the Grand Buffet and Grill in Duluth.

The defendants named in the indictments each face maximum sentences of 10 years in federal prison and fines of up to $250,000.

FBI and ICE agents on Thursday detained 39 individuals for violating immigration laws in conjunction with the raid on the employment agencies.

Federal agents continue to investigate.