7-Eleven is in the middle of a public relations nightmare, thanks to several of its stores’ owners and managers in New York and Virginia.

Yesterday, federal authorities accused the convenience store owners of taking advantage of dozens of illegal immigrant workers—forcing them to live in substandard housing and stealing their wages. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is in the process of revoking the franchises of 14 7-Elevens in New York and Virginia and seizing five N.Y. homes, where the employees are reported to have lived in squalor. The case is the largest of its kind in the history of the DHS, which indicted eight men and one woman in the case.

“These defendants ruthlessly exploited their immigrant employees, stealing their wages and requiring them to live in unregulated boarding houses, in effect creating a modern day plantation system,” Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement released with the DHS, the Social Security Administration, and state and local police.

According to the DHS,  more than 50 illegal immigrants were involved. The alleged offenders gave them identities stolen from dead people and children, and they concealed the scheme from 7-Eleven headquarters. 7-Eleven’s parent company, Seven & I Holdings Co. Ltd. Of Japan, said it is cooperating with authorities but refused to comment on the case.

Read more about this case on Thomson Reuters.

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