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Feds raid 7-Eleven stores at 54 sites, allege $180M ‘plantation system’ immigrant fraud

Posted Jun 18, 2013 3:36 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In one of the biggest criminal cases ever brought by the Department of Justice over the employment of immigrants, federal agents have seized the franchise rights of 14 7-Eleven stores and announced charges against nine individuals responsible for their operation.

The feds also seized five homes and are executing search warrants on more than 40 additional 7-Eleven stores, in what is being described as a "modern day plantation system." It allegedly brought in $180 million in revenue by putting illegal immigrants from Pakistan and the Philippines to work, paying them a fraction of required wages for working up to 100 hours per week or more and segregating them in employer-provided "company town" housing, according to the Associated Press and the New York Times (reg. req.).

At a Monday news conference in Brooklyn, officials said the stores are located in New York City, Virginia and elsewhere. Participating franchisees are accused of using the identities and social security numbers of legal U.S. residents for undocumented immigrants to escape scrutiny for as long as a decade or more.

Although wages were issued by a national 7-Eleven office, the defendants are accused of requiring immigrant workers to give them most of the money, as well as pay them, in cash, to rent housing owned by their employers. The same Social Security number could be used for multiple employees because there was "little to no effort to insure the integrity of their payroll system,” said assistant U.S. attorney Loretta E. Lynch. Her Brooklyn office participated in the investigation, as did Homeland Security.

A 7-Eleven Inc. spokesman told the Times that the Dallas-based company is cooperating with the investigation and plans to “take aggressive actions to audit the employment status of all its franchisees’ employees.”

Convenience Store News says the investigation covers at least eight states: Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

See also:

Bloomberg: "Feds Raid 7-Eleven Owners' 'Modern Day Plantation'"

WTKR: "Three from Hampton Roads indicted in 7-Eleven immigration raids"

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