3 family members charged with human trafficking and forced labor at Massachusetts restaurants

Federal agents search restaurants and homes in Woburn as part of ‘human trafficking investigation’

Federal agents search restaurants and homes in Woburn as part of ‘human trafficking investigation’


New charges have been announced against three men, including a Boston father and son, who allegedly used forced labor and human trafficking at their Massachusetts restaurants.

Jesse James Moraes, 65, and Hugo Giovanni Moraes, 43, are from Woburn, Massachusetts, and operated two restaurants: The Dog House Bar & Grill and Taste of Brazil. Jesse Moraes’ brother and Hugo Moraes’ uncle Chelbe Williams Moraes, 62, have also been charged. Chelbe Moraes lives in Brazil.

The charging documents allege the three men targeted and smuggled migrants from Brazil to the United States, charging them between $18,000 and $22,000. Chelbe Moraes targeted migrants in Brazil, and once in the United States, Jesse and Hugo Moraes recruited them to work in their restaurants in Woburn, Massachusetts. The three men allegedly gave the migrants false documents to support their applications for asylum or work permits.

The Dog House Bar & Grill in Woburn.


Jesse and Hugo Moraes also arranged for the victims to live in apartments they owned or controlled. The charging documents allege the couple withheld wages from the victims to pay off contraband debts, forced them to work long hours performing heavy manual labor and subjected the victims to threats of serious physical and emotional harm. . The victims were also threatened with eviction. The threats were aimed at preventing them from quitting or demanding better pay, authorities said.

According CBSBostona Taste of Brazil employee told investigators that he was only paid $3 an hour, received no tips, and had to work 14 hours a day non-stop.

The three men are charged “in a substitute forced labor conspiracy indictment,” federal officials said in a news release announcing the charges. Jesse and Hugo Moraes were charged with forced labor and attempted forced labor. Jesse Moraes has also been charged with labor trafficking, attempted labor trafficking and money laundering conspiracy.

“This case is another stark example of the human trafficking that occurs every day in our country and our Commonwealth and the heinous efforts some employers go to in the pursuit of profit,” said U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. in a press release announcing the charges. “These defendants are alleged to have conspired to take advantage of the American dream. … The victims in this case are real people with families who took immeasurable risk to come to the United States, only to face threats of violence and oppression.”

A federal agent in a Woburn restaurant.


These are not the first charges the three men have faced. In October, the relatives were charged with “abetting and inducing, and conspiring to encourage and induce, an alien to come, enter and reside in the United States for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain. , knowing and in reckless disregard that such coming, entering and residing is or will be in violation of the law,” federal officials said. Chelbe Moraes has also been charged with money laundering and conspiracy.

CBSBoston reported that in 2022, The Dog House Bar & Grill and Taste of Brazil were raided by authorities. Investigators had executed federal search and arrest warrants at the businesses and several residences, according to a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson.

The charges carry prison sentences and significant fines. The men were charged as part of a joint investigation between local and federal authorities.

“Labour traffickers treat humans like commodities, profiting from the mistreatment of their workforce and using force, fraud or coercion to coerce people into work and make it difficult or impossible for them to work. departure,” said Michael J. Krol, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England. “Today’s superseding indictment alleges that Moraes and his conspirators smuggled individuals into the United States, charging them tens of thousands of dollars just to withhold wages to ostensibly pay off their debt of smuggling.”

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