Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 97 14:05:19 CDT
From: Marpessa Kupendua <>
Subject: !*Mexican Slave Ring Began in Chicago
Article: 15422

)Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 12:45:31 -0500 (CDT)
)From: Kamaria Ngozi <>
)Subject: Mexican Slave Ring Began in Chicago

Mexican slave ring began in Chicago

By Michael Gillis and Brenda Warner Rotzoll, [29 July 1997]

The ring that allegedly forced deaf, undocumented immigrants from Mexico to work as peddlers originated in Chicago nearly a decade ago and later expanded to New York, prosecutors said in court documents Monday.

Leonardo French Iduarte, Mexico’s consul general in Chicago, said it appears that the deaf Mexicans had been deceived by an offer to be taken to a paradise, which was not the case.

The alleged scheme was uncovered in New York on July 18, when two deaf Mexican citizens alerted police to 57 undocumented immigrants, most of them deaf, in two apartments.

They allegedly were forced to work up to 11 hours a day selling trinkets and were threatened with beatings or with being turned over to immigration authorities.

Affidavits filed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service on Monday in Chicago said two Mexicans living in Chicago, Norma Alcantara, 36, and Francisco Duenas, 28, originated the practice of using deaf Mexicans who were present in the United States illegally to sell keychains and other trinkets.

Alcantara and Duenas allegedly started their operation in Chicago in 1988 or 1989, then taught the business to Renato Paoletti-Lemus and his sister, Adriana, who have been charged with overseeing the New York ring. The two rings frequently traded their workers, according to affidavits based on interviews with the victims.

Because the New York ring was uncovered first, Alcantara, who is deaf, and Duenas, who is not, were charged there. They were arrested in Chicago over the weekend and after a hearing Monday were ordered transferred to New York.

Juan Antonio Limon, 21, who allegedly was part of the New York operation, was arrested in Chicago over the weekend and ordered transferred to New York.

Seven people in New York initially were charged with recruiting the undocumented immigrants, transporting them to New York, putting them to work selling key chains for $1 on subways and punishing them if they didn’t earn enough. Police seized more than $43,000 in cash from the apartments.

Officials said a less extensive operation existed in Chicago. Alcantara, Duenas and Limon were among 11 adults and two children found living in three tiny apartments in the 500 block of West Belmont.

David Venturella, an INS spokesman in Chicago, said the Chicago Mexicans were in protective custody in the suburbs, where they were being interviewed with the help of sign interpreters.

French said the consulate in Chicago received a call Wednesday from one a relative in Mexico, who learned from the Mexican media about the ordeal of the deaf mutes of New York and thought their relative in Chicago may be in a similar plight.

He asked police for help. Consulate workers and police went to the Belmont Avenue building, and police notified the INS, Ffrench said.

The New York and Chicago operations frequently exchanged people each considered unproductive, affidavits said. For instance, Alcantara traded a deaf woman named Ana Velasquez to New York and received three deaf men in return.

After one of the men cut Alcantara’s face, she tried to send him back to New York and get Velasquez back, according to the affidavit. When the New York operation refused to accept the man, he was turned out on the street.

Investigators said Velasquez told them she was recruited by Alcantara and Duenas about three or four years ago in Mexico.

Velasquez said she was beaten at least once, allegedly by Alcantara. She described a trip she made with Alcantara to North Carolina, where she and other deaf Mexicans were ordered to sell trinkets.

Velasquez said she was sent to New York in 1996, investigators said.

(CHICAGO)—Three Mexican nationals living in Chicago are facing abuse charges for allegedly overseeing a ring of deaf illegal Mexican immigrants forced to work as peddlers. Authorities believe two of the suspects, 36-year-old Norma Alcantara and 28-year-old Francisco Duenas, started a ring in Chicago in 1988 or 1989, forcing undocumented immigrants to sell trinkets on the streets. Later they allegedly taught the business to two people in New York, where police 10 days ago found 57 immigrants—most of them deaf—crammed into two apartments.