Special agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Border Patrol, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
More than 30 people have been indicted in a Houston-based wrongful employment and human smuggling ring with ties to Louisiana and Arkansas.
Federal prosecutors in Beaumont said 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 said 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.
A spokesman for ICE said eight of the 32 people indicted live in North Texas, including four in Rockwall, two in Sanger, and two in Brownwood.
The other suspects are from Houston, Port Arthur, San Marcos, Mineola, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Nacogdoches, plus Little Rock, Ark., and Bastrop, Allen and Abbeville, La.