Woburn father and son arrested for human trafficking; agents attack the restaurants they operate


Migrants reportedly paid tens of thousands of dollars to be smuggled into the United States, where some worked for less than minimum wage at Tudo Na Brasa and The Dog House.

Federal agents loaded evidence seized from the Dog House Bar & Grill in Woburn into a waiting van. Federal and local law enforcement officials raided several homes and businesses in Woburn on Tuesday morning. Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe

Two Woburn men, a father and son, were arrested on Tuesday and face human trafficking charges involving restaurants they own and operate.

Jesse James Moraes, 64, and Hugo Giovanni Moraes, 42, are said to have smuggled people into the country from Brazil for tens of thousands of dollars. They then employed those people in their restaurants and withheld wages to pay off contraband debts, prosecutors said.

Chelbe Willams Moraes, brother of Jesse Moraes and uncle of Hugo Moraes, was also charged. He lives in Brazil.

Chelbe Moraes allegedly worked to smuggle people from Brazil to America for fees ranging from $18,000 to $22,000. Once they arrived in Massachusetts, Jesse and Hugo Moraes employed them at their two Woburn restaurants, Taste of Brazil—Tudo Na Brasa and The Dog House.

The three men allegedly gave or offered to give false documents to those they smuggled into the country to obtain work permits or support asylum claims. Marcos Chacon, 29, also from Woburn, was charged with knowingly transferring a false identity document. Chacon allegedly sold these forged documents to those smuggled in at the behest of Moraes’ men.

Human smuggling is different from human trafficking. The latter concerns persons exploited for the purpose of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation. Human smuggling involves services such as transporting or creating fraudulent documents for people willingly seeking to illegally enter another country.

Migrants were paid at least in part in cash, and generally well below minimum wage, according to court documents obtained by WCVB. Moraes’ men sometimes issued veiled and overt threats to migrants about what would happen if they did not repay their debts.

A source, according to the station, told law enforcement officials they were smuggled into the country for a fee of around $32,000. Half of this amount was paid upfront and migrants were required to repay the remainder in installments of $1,450 beginning six months after arriving in Massachusetts. The source was reportedly paid $3 an hour for 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. shifts at Taste of Brazil.


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