LOS ANGELES (CN) – Four people were charged with smuggling Filipinos into the United States and putting them to forced labor at nursing homes for old people. Federal prosecutors say the four, all Filipino nationals, entered people into U.S. martial contests as a ruse to get them here, then took their passports and made them work around the clock at half pay to pay off their “debt.”
Federal officials say they found five smuggling victims at two residential elder care homes, which they shut down.
Indicted were Evelyn Pelayo, 51, of Long Beach, who owns two old-age homes where the victims allegedly were put to work; Darwin Padolina, 56, Pelayo’s husband; Rodolfo Demafeliz, 39, of the Philippines, who allegedly recruited the victims in the Philippines and entered them in the sports events; and Rolleta Riazon, 28, Demafeliz’s assistant.
Prosecutors said that after Pelayo took her victims’ passports, she ordered them not to speak with co-workers, and threatened to call police and immigration officials if they disobeyed, to have them deported.
Pelayo faces up to 140 years in prison for conspiracy, forced labor, human trafficking and other charges.