Nine owners of 7-Eleven stores in Long Island were arrested in a human smuggling scheme that exploited and abused illegal immigrants. The feds also plan to raid an additional 40 7-Eleven stores in NY and Virginia, The NY Times reports.
9 people — 8 men and 1 woman — were taken into custody in NY, and charged with wire fraud, identity theft and other charges. Among the arrested were alleged ring leader Farrukh Baig, left, and his wife, Bushra Baig.
In what authorities describe as “a modern day plantation system,” immigrants who worked at the 7-Eleven convenience stores were forced to work for slave wages and live in deplorable conditions. Most of the workers were believed to be from Pakistan.
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a press conference today, the defendants “systematically employed illegal immigrants, they concealed their crimes by raiding the cradle and grave to steal the identities of children and even the dead.”
Prosecutors seized $180 million in 7-Eleven stores and merchandise and is seeking $30 million in forfeitures from 7-Eleven’s corporate parent company.
A company spokesman said 7-Eleven is cooperating with the government investigation.
The feds charged the store owners with paying an employee using the Social Security number of a former 7-Eleven employee who hadn’t worked there in 10 years. The former employee was the subject of an IRS investigation after he was accused of not reporting the income.
A company source told the NY Times the payments to employees were handled by 7-Eleven’s parent company, and that there were no internal controls to prevent the same social security numbers from being used to pay more than one employee.
The defendants face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of all the charges.
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