A magistrate yesterday blasted immigration officials for failing to prosecute the owners of two clubs where foreign dancers were found performing without work permits.
Acting Assistant Chief Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans asked why the owners of Cheetah’s Lounge on East Bay Street and Exclusive on Faith Avenue had not been prosecuted along with the eight exotic dancers who were arrested during operations on January 28.
Vogt-Evans said, “We are running behind our tails if these persons are not prosecuted. You have to arrest the owners of the establishments because all they will do is hire other dancers. This is ridiculous.”
Chief Immigration Officer Harold Thurston told the magistrate, “We fully intend to go after everybody; we intend to carry out the government’s mandate.”
However, the court was not told why that didn’t happen in these cases.
Vogt-Evans imposed fines totaling $27,000 on the women.
They pleaded guilty to charges of engaging in gainful occupation and will spend three months in prison if they fail to pay fines of $3,000 each.
Three of them were each fined an additional $1,000 after pleading guilty to staying in the country beyond the time given to them by the immigration officers who landed them.
The one-month sentence for not paying the $1,000 fine would run concurrently with the three-month-long sentences.
Vogt-Evans asked each of the women who had hired them, but only one who was arrested at Exclusive identified her employer as “Ali’.
The court heard that an immigration officer went undercover in the clubs and the raids occurred after the officer watched the women perform for funds.
Five Colombians, one Jamaican, one Venezuelan and one Trinidadian were arrested.