7-Eleven Inc. Taking Over Raided N.Y., Va. C-Stores

Stores reopening after federal raids, staffed by corporate supervisors, workers

Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP

DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. corporate on Tuesday began reopening the stores raided Monday by federal agents, according a Newsday report, citing officials.

"7-Eleven, Inc. is taking an aggressive approach to ending its relationships with franchisees who violate the law or its franchise agreement," the retailer said in a statement provided to CSP Daily News. "7-Eleven will continue to take action against franchisees who violate the law or its franchise agreement."

The chain's management has replaced the stores' employees with its own supervisors and workers, Scott Matter, a spokesperson for Dallas-based 7-Eleven, told Newsday. "Some Long Island [N.Y.] 7-Elevens were open today and all should be open on Wednesday. Employees from 7-Eleven Inc. were brought in to operate the stores," he said.

And on Wednesday, 7-Eleven assumed control of six locations in Virginia, reported The Virginian-Pilot.

"7-Eleven Inc. has assumed control of two additional stores in Virginia as a result of pending felony proceedings against two franchisees," said a company statement provided to the newspaper. "These stores are now open under the management of 7-Eleven Inc."

The federal government on Monday indicted eight men and one woman from Long Island, N,Y., charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud, stealing identities and concealing and harboring illegal immigrants employed at 7-Eleven Inc. franchise stores throughout Long Island and Virginia.

The charges, arrests and seizures of assets resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General, the New York State Police and the Suffolk County Police.

The defendants are Farrukh Baig, 57, and Bushra Baig, 49, a married couple who owned, co-owned or controlled 12 of the 7-Eleven franchise stores located on Long Island and in Virginia; Zahid Baig, 52, and Shannawaz Baig, 62, Farrukh Baig's brothers who helped to manage and control the stores; and Malik Yousaf, 51, Tariq Rana, 34, and Ramon Nanas, 49. Brothers Ahzar Zia, 49, and Ummar Uppal, 48, indicted separately, owned and controlled two other Suffolk County 7-Eleven franchise stores.

Through this scheme, the defendants, who owned, managed and controlled 14 7-Eleven franchise stores during the course of the conspiracies, allegedly hired dozens of illegal immigrants, equipped them with more than 20 identities stolen from U.S. citizens, housed them at residences owned by the defendants and stole substantial portions of their wages.

The indictments, arrests and seizures are the result of one of the largest criminal alien employment investigations ever conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As set forth in court filings, the government has moved to forfeit the franchise rights to 10 7-Eleven stores in New York and four 7-Eleven stores in Virginia. In the indictments, the government has also moved to forfeit five houses in New York worth more than $1.3 million. According to DHS, this case constitutes the largest criminal alien forfeiture in its history.

In addition to the charges already filed, federal agents fanned out early Monday across the country to execute multiple search and seizure warrants and inspect approximately 40 7-Eleven franchise stores. The actions taken are the initial results of an ongoing investigation into the employment and exploitation of illegal aliens at 7-Eleven franchise stores nationwide.