Liquor store owners charged with human trafficking in Gilroy

Bay Area

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GILROY, Calif. (KRON) — A Gilroy couple was charged with human trafficking of an employee they allegedly locked in their liquor store and never paid.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney alleges that suspects Amarjit and Balwinder Mann stole an Indian man’s passport and had him working 15 hour shifts, seven days a week with threats of deportation if he spoke to police.

The DA said in February 2020, an Alcoholic Beverage Control inspection agent noticed there was a thin mattress in the storage room of M&M Liquors on Westwood Drive. “An office desk contained folded clothes in each drawer. On top of the desk there were pots and pans for cooking,” according to the DA. Investigators say the man bathed in the mop sink.

Three other men were also identified as alleged victims of the couple. The employees told agents that they worked “marathon hours and were paid a pittance,” according to the DA. Investigators believe the Manns stole over $150,000 in wages from the four men.

DA Jeff Rosen called it slavery.

“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,” Rosen said.

The suspects are facing charges of labor human trafficking, witness intimidation, and wage theft involving a total of four victims.

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