An elderly couple in California is facing human trafficking charges for putting their employees under inhumane conditions, including working for 15 hours each day, authorities said.
What happened: The discovery was made during an Alcoholic Beverage Control inspection at M&M Liquors on Westwood Drive in Gilroy in February, according to KION.
- Investigators believe the 66-year-old owners, Amarjit and Balwinder Mann, stole more $150,000 in wages.
- “The Manns engaged in predatory recruitment of their workers from India and lured them with promises of travel and financial independence,” the Santa Clara District Office said in its statement Monday.
- “They are very savvy businesspeople who exploited their workers. One in particular, they lured to the United States on promises of travel and financial independence,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said, according to KCRG.
- The couple is also accused of threatening their employees by going to the police, which could lead to their deportation.
- “Slavery officially was abolished in 1865,” Rosen said. “Tragically, we are seeing examples of it in 2020. My Office will prosecute anyone to the fullest extent of the law who practices this kind of criminal and inhumane exploitation.”
- The Manns were arraigned on Nov. 9 and facing charges of labor human trafficking, witness intimidation, and wage theft involving a total of four victims.
Horrible condition: Investigators found a man living inside the small liquor store storage room during the inspection in February.
- The couple let the man sleep on a thin mattress on top of milk crates, the investigation revealed. His clothes were also folded and placed inside the drawers of an office desk.
- The man was also forced to take baths using the mop sink.
- Investigators discovered the man was flown from India in 2019 under the impression he would get to travel to the United States. However, upon arriving, the Manns took all of his belongings, including his passport and money, and forced him to do unpaid labor.
- They also never allowed the man to leave the liquor store at night.
- Two other liquor store employees and another who worked at Gavilan Market across the street were forced to work 15-hour shifts every day but were only paid a small amount.
- Investigators also learned that one of the employees was not aware of the concept of a minimum wage.
Feature Image via Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office