As a result of arrests made by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), 7-Eleven franchisee owners and managers may face 20 years in prison for conspiring to commit wire fraud, stealing identities and concealing and harboring illegal aliens employed at 7-Eleven franchise stores located in New York and Virginia.
These arrests confirm ICE's worksite enforcement strategy that prioritizes the use of criminal prosecutions against employers that do the following:
Use unauthorized workers as a business model;
Mistreat their workers;
Engage in human smuggling or trafficking;
Engage in identity and benefit fraud;
Launder money; or
Participate in other criminal conduct.
According to a press release, the criminal charges were filed against eight men and one woman from New York for allegedly knowingly and repeatedly employing illegal aliens for over 13 years. These individuals are also charged with providing the illegal aliens with stolen identities from US citizens, including a child, deceased individuals and a US Coast Guard cadet, providing them with housing at residences owned by the employers and for stealing substantial portions of their wages. These illegal employment activities generated more than $182 million in proceeds, which was shared by the individuals charged.
ICE stated that the "indictments, arrests and seizures are the result of one of the largest criminal alien employment investigations ever conducted by the US Department of Justice and the US Department of Homeland Security." In addition, the government moved to forfeit, i.e., seize, the franchise rights to a total of 14 stores between New York and Virginia and five houses in New York.
With these arrests, 7-Eleven franchises remain on the government's radar and federal agents have executed warrants to inspect approximately 30 more 7-Eleven stores nationwide.