Feds Raid 7-Elevens Accused of Running "Modern Day Plantation System"

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 17 2013 2:08 PM

Feds Raid 7-Eleven Stores Accused of Running "Modern Day Plantation System"

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Customers walks towards the entrance to a 7-Eleven store May 9, 2003 in Des Plaines, Illinois

Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Federal authorities raided more than a dozen 7-Eleven stores across New York and Virginia on Monday, charging nine owners and managers of the convenience stores with exploiting immigrants from Pakistan and the Philippines in a scheme the government says was akin to a "modern day plantation system." Here's the Associated Press with the details:

Federal indictments naming eight men and one woman allege that since 2000 they employed more than 50 immigrants who didn’t have permission to be in the U.S. They tried to conceal the immigrants’ employment by stealing the identities of about two dozen people — including those of the child, the dead and a Coast Guard cadet — and submitting the information to the 7-Eleven payroll department.
When 7-Eleven’s headquarters sent the wages for distribution, the employers stole “significant portions” of the workers’ pay, authorities said. The defendants also forced the workers to live in houses they owned and pay them rent in cash, they added.
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U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch offered up the pull-quote ready statement. "The defendants not only systematically employed illegal immigrants, but concealed their crimes by raiding the cradle and the grave to steal the identities of children and even the dead," she said. "Finally, these defendants ruthlessly exploited their immigrant employees, stealing their wages and requiring them to live in unregulated boarding houses, in effect creating a modern day plantation system."

Officials said that they are also executing search warrants at roughly 30 other stores across the country suspected of similar infractions. According to NBC New York, around a dozen of the workers who were brought into the country illegally are currently in federal custody and could be deported. The store owners face charges of wire fraud conspiracy, harboring illegal immigrants and aggravated identity theft. They face up to 20 years if convicted.