Two Brownwood men – Yan Mao, 39, and Yip Keung Leung, 40 – are among more than 30 people who have been indicted in a Houston-based wrongful employment and human smuggling ring with ties to Louisiana and Arkansas.
Federal prosecutors in Beaumont say arrests began Thursday. More than 20 people have been detained.
Indictments returned in November charge 32 people with racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to transport, harbor, and encourage and induce illegal immigrants for jobs.
Prosecutors say two employment referral businesses recruited immigrants, mostly from Mexico and Central America, for the Chinese restaurant industry. The workers received substandard pay in cash, weren't allowed to keep tips, had no benefits and lived in crowded conditions.
The suspects are from Houston, Port Arthur, San Marcos, Dallas, Mineola, Rockwall, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Brownwood and Nacogdoches, plus Little Rock, Ark., and Bastrop, Allen and Abbeville, La.
Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) website for more details.