Two brothers who operated the J&A Framing and Carpentry have been indicted on several charges, including trafficking immigrants whom they employed at the Durham-based business.
A grand jury yesterday indicted Juan Antonio Ponce and Jose Alfredo Lopez Ponce, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorneys office in Raleigh. The Ponce brothers allegedly hired coyotes, or smugglers, to bring undocumented immigrants into the U.S. to work for the business. The employers also allegedly failed to pay employment taxes while paying the immigrants less than minimum wage. In addition, the Ponce brothers charged the workers rent for spartan accommodations.
A month ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided three work sites in Cary, Apex and Chapel Hill and arrested 18 workers. Eight of those arrested pleaded guilty to misdemeanor immigration-related charges and served 30 days in the detention center, while 10 men await their indictments and court hearings.
The Lopez brothers entered the U.S. illegally in the 1980s, according to the U.S. Attorney, but have married U.S. citizens and become naturalized.
This story will updated as more information becomes available.