General — 06 June 2014 — by Rowland A. Parks

In making their rounds at various city recreation spots, the Immigration Department nabbed three bar owners who had employed persons without valid temporary work permits. The three accused were arraigned in the Magistrate’s Court late this afternoon.

Abdon Cal, 42, the owner of Island Berries Bar, located on Barracks Road, was booked with two counts of employing persons not in possession of valid temporary work permits.

According to Immigration officers, Cal employed two Honduran nationals, identified as Martha Rodriguez Lopez and Amanda Amaya.

Mara Mejia, 42, the owner of La Catracha Bar, located on Coney Drive, was charged with three counts of the same offense.

Mejia hired Honduran nationals Doris Margarita Perez Navarro, Carla Castro and Esmin Laura Aguliar.

The third bar owner to be charged was Chinese businessman Zhao Kang Huang, the owner of Fusion Bar, located on Coney Drive, who was also charged with five counts of the offense of employing persons not in possession of valid temporary work permits.

Hunag hired Honduran nationals Dolores Baharona Vallero, Heydi Gabriela Hernandez Pineda, and Liliam Yoshira Norjas Alvarado; and two Guatemalan nationals Nely Yolibeth Dubon Lopez and Sara Luz Guevara Alvarez.

But in court, only Cal and Mejia were arraigned. Huang could not be arraigned because it was too late in the business day of the court to get a translator who speaks Huang’s Mandarin language. He will be formally arraigned on the five charges tomorrow, Friday.

Both Cal and Mejia pleaded guilty to the charges and were fined $1,000 for each person they employed without valid temporary work permits.

Cal was fined $2,010, while Mejia was fined $3,015 (including court costs). The two were ordered to pay their fines by September 30, 2014. If they default in payment, they will have to spend three months behind bars.

The Immigration arrest came as a result of information that the department officers received earlier today. They visited the establishments around 11:00 a.m. and made the arrests.

When they asked the workers at the three locations for their documents, they could not produce them to show that they were legally entitled to work in Belize.

All the undocumented workers pointed to the owners of the bars as their employers.

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