Shasta Lake City Restaurant Owners Sentenced for Forced Labor

A couple of Shasta Lake City restaurant owners who forced immigrant relatives to work for free have reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. The owners of Latino’s Mexican Restaurant, Nery Martinez Vasquez and Maura Martinez, were first indicted in 2019. The couple, originally from Guatemala, brought a family member and her two minor daughters to the US from Guatemala 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 their other business, 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. They invented a debt that they told the woman she owed them but made it impossible for her to pay it back. Prosecutors say the victims were housed in a dilapidated trailer with no running water, and they were beaten, humiliated and degraded in front of other people. Tuesday, Nery and Maura pled guilty to conspiracy to commit forced labor. They face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison, and have agreed to pay $300,000 to the victims.