2 guilty in Texas immigrant employment scam

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BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) — Two Houston residents have pleaded guilty in an employment scam targeting immigrants in the U.S. illegally and providing cheap labor for Chinese restaurants.

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday announced 54-year-old Lina Sun and 57-year-old Chenglun Ma pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy.

Both pleaded guilty Tuesday in Beaumont and face up to 20-year prison terms. No sentencing date was immediately set.

Investigators say two businesses in Houston recruited immigrants mostly from Mexico and Central America. Federal officials have said the Hong Li and the Tai Shan agencies provided workers to restaurants in Texas, Louisiana, Maine and other states.

Court records indicate Sun and Ma were affiliated with the Hong Li enterprise.

Indictments unsealed in January charged 32 individuals with racketeering-related counts. Details weren’t immediately available on the status of the other cases.

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