Federal law enforcement authorities raided 14 7-Eleven stores on Long Island and in Virginia early Monday as part of an illegal-immigration and identity-theft investigation.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested nine owners and managers and charged them with harboring and hiring illegal immigrants and paying them using sham Social Security numbers, reports The New York Times
The eight men and one woman reportedly were charged with wire fraud and aggravated theft stemming from payment of employees who were illegal immigrants using the Social Security numbers of children and dead people.
More than a dozen workers believed to have been brought into the country illegally were taken into immigration custody, according to WNBC in New York
Many of those charged and most, if not all, of the illegal immigrants reportedly were from Pakistan.
ICE agents and prosecutors in Brooklyn were also investigating 40 other 7-Eleven franchises in New York City and elsewhere, and prosecutors are seeking $30 million in forfeiture from the stores and their corporate parent, according to the Times.
Scott Matter, a spokesman for parent company Southland Corp., said in a statement that the company was aware of the arrests and seizures and "has been cooperating with federal authorities during their investigation."
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch and other law enforcement officials are expected to announce details of the investigation later Monday.
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