The owners of 14 7-Eleven stores in New York and Virginia were charged on Monday by federal authorities with fraud, identity theft, and concealing undocumented immigrants. Authorities said conditions for undocumented employees at the stores were like a “modern day plantation system."
As ABC News reported, federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch said the franchise owners gave at least 18 undocumented workers from Pakistan IDs stolen from the deceased and children, and then forced them to work 100 hours a week, often at a small fraction of the wages regular employees would receive. Many of the employees were forced to live in unregulated boarding houses owned by their employers.
"The 7-11 franchises seized today will be better known for their big fraud than their Big Gulp," said James Hayes, special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's office of investigations in New York.
Officials from 7-Eleven said they will "will take aggressive actions to audit the employment status of all its franchisees' employees."
Farrukah Baig and his wife Bushra, along with 7 others, were charged in the operation. Eight of the nine defendants were ordered to be held without bail.
Authorities are expanding the investigation to 40 stores in seven states.
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