Restaurant Owners Face Life In Prison After New Federal Indictment

A couple of Shasta Lake City restaurant owners accused of forcing immigrants to work for free have been indicted on further federal charges. The owners of Latino’s Mexican Restaurant, Nery Martinez Vasquez and Maura Martinez, both 52-years-old, were first indicted in 2019. Federal prosecutors say that between 2016 and 2018, the couple, originally from Guatemala, conspired to bring a Guatemalan woman and her two minor daughters to the U.S. using temporary visitor visas, harbored them after their visas expired, and forced them to work long hours for little or no pay at Latino’s Restaurant, as well as for Redding Carpet Cleaning and Janitorial Services. The indictment says they subjected them to abuse, threatened them with arrest and separated the mother from her daughters in order to compel them to work. The new indictment from Thursday says that in 1997 the couple kidnapped a 13-year-old girl from Las Vegas, telling her parents she would be back in a week. Instead they allegedly held her for almost two years and forced her to work 7 days a week without pay. Nery Martinez Vasquez is also accused of routinely sexually molesting and raping the girl. With the original indictment the couple faced up to 30 years in federal prison. Now they could be sentenced to life if convicted. Latino’s Restaurant is still open, and apparently still owned by the Martinez family.