FLORIDA, United States, Tuesday January 12, 2016 – An American couple who sailed to The Bahamas, picked up three women from Paraguay and then took them to the US to work illegally, are now facing federal charges.
Lawrence Blessinger and Janet Meadows, who hired the illegal immigrants to work at their homes in the Florida Keys and Long Island, New York, have been accused of conspiring to knowingly bring illegal aliens into the United States in 2012 and 2015.
The two are scheduled to have arraignment hearings on January 19, according to online newspaper KeyNet.
The three Paraguyans were brought into the US in two smuggling incidents.
According to a U.S. Department of Homeland Security arrest report, the first of the women flew from Paraguay to Spain to the Bahamas, where she arrived on August 8, 2012. Meadows met her at the airport and Blessinger then picked them up and sailed them to Miami on one of his boats. The immigrant was then flown to New York.
She told investigators she was paid US$400 a week for working as a domestic servant, but US$50 was deducted from her wages every week until she had paid US$500 the couple charged her for getting her into the US.
Blessinger smuggled the other two women into the country in April last year.
One of them said they were both flown from Paraguay to the Bahamas on April 2, and stayed at a local hotel until April 20 when they were picked up and taken on another one of Blessinger’s boats to Key Colony Beach.
She was paid US$500 a week and charged US$2,000 for passage into the country.