7-Eleven raids: Federal authorities indicted nine owners and managers of 14 franchise 7-Eleven stores in New York and Virginia of harboring and hiring illegal immigrants, said the Department of Justice. The NY Times reported on June 17 that following the 7-Eleven raids, authorities are now investigating 40 other 7-Eleven franchises in New York City as well as other places. According to officials from the Justice and Homeland Security Departments, this case is one of the largest criminal immigrant employment investigations ever conducted.
The defendants arrested in the 7-Eleven raids mainly reside in Long Island, N.Y., and they are being charged with fraudulent use of Social Security numbers, including dead people and children as well as wire fraud and money aggravated identity theft.
Authorities say they amassed tens of millions of dollars by exploiting immigrants from Pakistan and the Philippines.
“These nine defendants created a modern-day plantation system, with themselves as overseers, with the immigrant workers as subjects, living in their version of a company town,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch told a news conference in Brooklyn.
As a result of the 7-Eleven raids, investigators discovered more than 20 undocumented stolen identities of U.S. citizens, according to the indictment.
If convicted, those involved could be sentenced to 20 years in prison. The authorities have also taken steps to seize five homes in New York with a value of $1.3 million.
“As set forth in the indictments, the defendants used 7-Eleven as a platform from which to run elaborate criminal enterprises,” said Lynch. “From their 7-Eleven stores, the defendants dispensed wire fraud and identity theft, along with Slurpees and hot dogs. In bedroom communities across Long Island and Virginia, 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.”
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement that the 7-Eleven raids shows the commitment of the U.S. government of “preserving the rule of law and protecting our communities from the abuses of corrupt businessmen seeking to gain illegal advantage.”
The 7-Eleven raids comes at a time when Congress is currently discussing immigration reform that includes increased border controls and the legalization of some 11 million undocumented immigrants.