Nine 7-Eleven owners and managers from Long Island and Virginia are under arrest after federal authorities accused them of masterminding an illegal immigration scheme and then exploiting workers smuggled into the country to work in the convenience stores.
The group faces various charges including identity theft, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and concealing and harboring illegal immigrants.
Another 7-Eleven manager is a fugitive, and federal agents seized 14 stores. The accused are from Pakistan and the Philippines and recruited workers from those countries.
According to federal investigators, the owners and managers allegedly forced illegal immigrants to work up to 100 hours per week, and extracted rent and other money from them. To cover their tracks, the group allegedly used 20 stolen identities, including those of an 8-year-old child and three dead people.
Federal prosecutors called the scheme a “plantation system,” which continued for 13 years. The workers themselves tipped off authorities to the abuse despite risking deportation because of their unauthorized work status.