FORT MYERS, Fla. - Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents served notices of inspection to 98 7-Eleven's nationwide, including four in Fort Myers.
According to a news release, agents also conducted interviews with store employees and managers to be certain businesses "are operating with employees who have proper work authorization.
"Today's actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable," said Thomas D. Homan, ICE Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director. "Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet. ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration."
In 2013, Homeland Security conduced an investigation resulting in the arrest of nine franchise owners and managers. They were charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud, stealing identities and concealing and harboring illegal aliens employed at their stores. All but one of those people pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay more than $2.6 million in restitution for back wages stolen form workers, the release said.
Wednesday's investigation was a follow-up to that series of investigations. Twenty-one people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally were administratively arrested and given notices to appear in immigration court.
According to the news release, this investigation is ongoing.