Chinese Restaurants Raided in Maine

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MAINE – Several Chinese restaurants in and around Maine were raided last week, reports the Sing Tao Daily, with four of them shut down and the owners indicted on charges of employing a largely undocumented work force and money laundering.

Citing the Bangor Daily News, the Sing Tao noted the establishments were under the ownership of Zhang Operations, itself under the ownership of Massachusetts residents Zi Qian Zhang and his wife Ai Hui Lu. The pair allegedly hired a largely Asian and Latino workforce of undocumented immigrants, paying them between $7-10 per hour, with many working up to 70 hours a week on average.

Other charges included tax violations, falsified income records and failing to document employee payrolls, the Sing Tao reported.

A federal investigation targeting Zhang Operations was launched in 2006 after local law enforcement made an unannounced visit to the Lu residence following repeated complaints from neighbors. Inside were some 18 undocumented immigrants living in the basement, in conditions the report described as “crowded and dirty.”

Three arrests were made in a second search of the property by federal authorities in 2007.