Federal authorities indicted nine owners and managers of 14 7-Eleven franchises which were seized in New York and Virginia on Monday. Charges include stealing identities and exploiting more than 50 illegal immigrants over a span of 13 years in an alleged "plantation system" according to CNNMoney.
Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, states in a press conference that married couple, Farrukh and Bushra Baig, are owners or managers of 12 of the 14 stores. The Brags, along with seven others, were charged with identity theft, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and concealing and harboring illegal immigrants.
The operation apparently maintained its low profile for so long due to the use of 20 stolen identities to hide the illegal immigrant's personal information. Stolen identities of children and the deceased were used, sometimes more than once, in an effort to maintain anonymity.
The 14 stores are now "operating under the direct management of 7-Eleven" while an additional 40 stores are actively being investigated. A 7-Eleven representative said in a statement that "7-Eleven is aware of today's activity against local franchise owners and has been cooperating with federal authorities during their investigation."
The defendants originate from Pakistan or the Philippines and are naturalized citizens of the United States. Many of the victims have similar countries of origin. Conditions often included 100 hour work weeks for minimal pay much of which was taken by the store operators.
Even given the victim's tenuous immigration status, they contacted authorities to report the illegal activity. According to Lynch, each victim's case will be handled individually when determining their futures.