Federal officials raided 14 7-Eleven stores in Long Island and parts of Virginia early on Monday in order to crack down on the exploitation of illegal immigrants.
Nine 7-Eleven managers and owners were arrested for employing illegal workers and committing identity-theft crimes to get undocumented immigrants from Pakistan and the Philippines on their payroll.
The Associated Press reports that fraudulent Social Security information, including that of a child and three dead people, has been used by the accused employers since 2000 to hire more than 50 illegal aliens. “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,” a U.S. attorney said in a statement. In addition to these crimes, the managers have been charged with withholding “significant portions” of immigrant workers’ pay and forcing them to rent specific lodgings.
The 7-Eleven managers may face up to 20 years in prison if they are convicted of wire-fraud conspiracy, identity theft, and harboring illegal aliens.
Eighteen workers were also taken into custody on Monday, including a number of those who had notified authorities about the fraud in the first place.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement are probing another 40 stores along the East Coast.