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PERTH AMBOY, NJ—Two men from New York City who ran a poultry slaughterhouse in Perth Amboy were arrested on November 30 and charged with forcing their undocumented immigrant employees to work there for long hours at extremely low wages.
According to the official story, the two men who were paid to slaughter chickens "complained about the hours they were working and the conditions of the facility (no gloves, masks or proper soap)," prompting a threat from the bosses.
"When these two victims complained about the defendants allegedly threatened to call the police," read the official statement. "The victims were afraid of being arrested and deported and they continued to work until health inspectors closed the business.
The bosses also put the workers up in a boarding house that "did not have heat or hot water," and "was infested with insects," according to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.
Mohammad Abdul Wahid, a 54-year-old resident of Queens, and Mohammed Iqbal Kabir, a 42-year-old from the Bronx, each face charges of conspiracy to commit human trafficking related offenses, conspiracy to harbor undocumented persons for financial gain, as well as violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.
A state grand jury will decide whether or not to proceed with the case against them, after it is presented to them by prosecutors.
According to authorities, between July 2011 through January 2016, Wahid owned a business named "American Halal Live Poultry" that operated at 950 Amboy Avenue in the Perth Amboy.
"The business operated pursuant to Halal practices, which meant that the live poultry was slaughtered by Muslim individuals," read the ICE press release.
Authorities noted that the workers "lived in a boarding house in front of the business," and that Wahid deducted $40 per week from their weekly pay for rent.
The employees were paid approximately $290 a week in cash and would typically work 70 to 100 hours a week, according to the official statement on their arrests.
"The employees were not paid more if they worked more hours, nor were they given overtime pay," read the ICE statement.
The charges "resulted from an investigation" conducted by ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“We will continue to pursue individuals who attempt to take advantage, and abuse vulnerable victims for financial gain,” said Terence S. Opiola, the Special Agent in Charge at HSI's Newark office. “I commend our special agents and their law enforcement partners for seeking justice on those vulnerable victims’ behalf and a job well done.”
Both men could face decades in prison for the offenses, and fines in excess of $500,000 each.
They were released on $75,000 "unsecured bond" each, and are subject to "home confinement and electronic monitoring," according to the release.