Three people have been indicted by a grand jury in McLennan County on charges related to human trafficking at the Vegas Buffet in Waco.
The three suspects were first arrested for human trafficking in June by the McLennan County Sheriff's Office.
Zhi Jimmy Lin and Yali Yang are also charged with continuous smuggling of persons charges. The sheriff added that this charge means they were hiding the identity of illegal persons.
Peng Li. Li was charged with engaging in organized crime, and his 2012 Mercedes was also seized.
The sheriff's office served a human trafficking warrant at the Vegas Buffet on June 1. Sheriff Parnell McNamara said the charges involve labor trafficking, specifically.
17 people were detained as deputies served the warrant. McNamara said of those people, seven or eight are from Guatemala and the others are from countries in Asia.
The restaurant was shut down for the day as a result. The business later closed.
Affidavits say two additional search warrants were issued in connection with the human trafficking at The Vegas Buffet. One for an apartment unit at the Avila Apartments and another at a home on Colfax Drive in Waco. Lin and his wife Yang took care of these residences where the trafficked victims lived.
The affidavits go into details about how the victims were brought into the United States.
One victim told authorities, once they were in the U.S., they had five years to pay back the $80,000 trafficking fee. Another victim told authorities about the harsh working conditions at the Vegas Buffet.
According to the affidavit, they sometimes worked for 13 hours a day, six days a week and made just $6.41 an hour.
Seven different agencies, including the FBI, were involved.
Unbound Waco responded on site to interview the victims and assist the sheriff's office with finding out exactly how they got to Waco.
"This a big operation here. We were quite surprised when we got into this investigation to find out these many people were involved," said, Mclennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara.
This is an ongoing investigation.
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