Two deaf illegal aliens from Mexico were arrested and charged with conspiring to smuggle deaf Mexicans into the United States and forcing them to sell $1 key chains and other trinkets in Chicago.
The defendants, arrested Friday and Saturday, are linked to a similar operation in New York, Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesman Russ Bergeron said Saturday.
They will be sent to New York for prosecution.
“This firmly establishes a linkage between the deaf Mexican nationals in Chicago and the original ones in New York,” Bergeron said, declining to be more specific because of the continuing investigation.
In Chicago, nine deaf illegal aliens from Mexico and two deaf children born in the United States “were controlled by members of an organization requiring them to go out and sell trinkets … and turn over proceeds to the organization,” Bergeron said. “They were exploited and controlled.”
Unlike deaf Mexicans forced into virtual slavery in New York, the Mexicans in Chicago were living in humane conditions, according to federal investigators.
Those arrested in Chicago are Norma Alcantera and Francisco Duemas, both charged with conspiring to smuggle, harbor and conceal illegal aliens.
Investigators said the deaf were selling more than $1 million a year in trinkets in New York and Illinois.
A similar operation was uncovered on Friday in Sanford, N.C.
Agents raided two homes there to break up an alleged ring that kept deaf Mexicans in virtual slavery and forced them to sell trinkets on the street. Fourteen adults and three children were taken into protective custody.
In New York City, 57 deaf illegal aliens were found on July 19 crammed into two apartments in Queens.
Seven people are charged with recruiting them, transporting them from Mexico to New York, putting them to work selling key chains for $1 on the subway and punishing them if they didn’t earn enough.
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