Gilroy Liquor Store Owners are Arrested and Accused of Labor Human Trafficking, Wage Theft, Conspiracy, and Witness Intimidation
Gilroy – The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and Santa Clara County District Attorney announced today that they have arrested 66-year-old Balwinder Singh Mann and his wife, 66-year-old Amarjit Mann, both of Gilroy, on several criminal charges, including labor human trafficking. The two individuals were arrested and are now accused of labor human trafficking, a violation of Section 236.1(a) of the California Penal Code.
In addition to the labor human trafficking charges, the Mann’s face multiple penal code violations, including wage theft (section 487) (a), conspiracy (section 182) (a) (1), witness intimidation (section 136.1) and failing to maintain workers compensation insurance (section 3700.5) (a) in the case that involves as many as four victims. The Mann’s are ABC licensees and hold licenses at two different stores in Gilroy, M&M Liquors, located at 7901 Westwood Drive, Suite H, and Gavilan Market, located at 8110 Westwood Drive, Suite A. ABC agents visited both Gilroy locations on multiple occasions to gather evidence during the investigation.
The investigation found that the Mann’s allegedly harbored at least one of the victims in the back of the store where the individual slept on a mattress in unhealthy conditions.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Labor Trafficking Fact Sheet, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) defines labor trafficking as: “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery.” A modern-day form of slavery, labor trafficking is a fundamental violation of human rights.
There are several forms of exploitative practices linked to labor trafficking, including bonded labor and forced labor.
- Bonded labor, or debt bondage, is probably the least known form of labor trafficking today, and yet it is the most widely used method of enslaving people. Victims become bonded laborers when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan or service in which its terms and conditions have not been defined or in which the value of the victims’ services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt. The value of their work is greater than the original sum of money “borrowed.”
- Forced labor is a situation in which victims are forced to work against their own will, under the threat of violence or some other form of punishment, their freedom is restricted, and a degree of ownership is exerted. Forms of forced labor can include domestic servitude, agricultural labor, sweatshop factory labor, janitorial, food service and other service industry labor, and begging.
ABC worked closely throughout the investigation with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Investigations.
Other agencies that provided assistance were the United States State Department, Department of Diplomatic Security, the San Jose Police Department, the Gilroy Police Department, and the South Bay Coalition to end Human Trafficking.
ABC protects communities through education and by administering prevention and enforcement programs designed to increase compliance with California’s alcoholic beverage laws.
ABC is a Department of the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency.