Operators of two Gulf Coast restaurants sentenced for employing, harboring illegal aliens

A judge will determine whether Martinez is psychologically fit to stand trial.
A judge will determine whether Martinez is psychologically fit to stand trial.(MGN)
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 6:43 PM CST
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HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Two Gulfport residents were sentenced to federal prison after it was found they had employed and housed people who were in the country illegally.

Hui Weng, a U.S. citizen, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, a $10,000 fine and $5,100 in special assessments. Yun Mei Weng, a permanent resident alien and Chinese national, was sentenced to five years of federal probation and a $5,000 fine for misprision of a felony regarding the harboring of illegal aliens.

Beginning at least by August 2019, Homeland Security Investigations received information that the Panda Palace Buffet was illegally hiring and harboring as employees aliens who were unlawfully present in the country at its Gulfport and D’Iberville locations.

Homeland Security determine that Hui Weng had been working at or managing the Gulfport Panda Palace location. Although the facilities were rented, the owner of the equipment was Yun Mei Weng. Yun Mei’s husband, the late Sheng Bin Weng, had managed the Panda Palace location in D’Iberville.

From the investigation, federal officials determined that the Wengs were hiring and harboring multiple illegal aliens from Central America who worked in the back of the restaurants. The employees in the front, visible parts of the restaurants were lawful employees.

In addition to hiring illegal aliens, the Wengs provided housing for the aliens at either a rented house in Gulfport or a house in D’Iberville. The Wengs also transported the aliens back and forth between the houses and the restaurant locations.

On March 10, 2022, search warrants were served on both restaurant locations and the two houses. Multiple illegal alien workers, including a 17-year-old, were found. Those also included four adults who had unlawfully returned to the U.S. after being lawfully removed.

The Wengs had already pleaded guilty on Nov. 16, 2022. They were also ordered to forfeit the house and land in D’Iberville used to harbor aliens.

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