NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two men were charged Tuesday with forcing people to work at their slaughterhouse in Middlesex County, New Jersey, federal prosecutors said.
Mohammad Abdul Wahid, 54, of Queens, and Mohammed Iqbal Kabir, 42, of the Bronx, were charged with conspiracy to commit forced labor, conspiracy to harbor undocumented persons for financial gain, and violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the office of New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
Both were released on a $75,000 unsecured bond and were under home confinement late Tuesday, prosecutors said.
From July 2011 to January 2016, Wahid owned and operated a Halal chicken slaughterhouse in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, police said. Wahid and Kabir allegedly employed undocumented persons at the slaughterhouse, paying them about $290 a week and having them work 70 to 100 hours during a six- or seven-day work week, prosecutors said.
The employees were not paid more if they worked more hours, or given overtime pay, prosecutors said.
The employees lived in a boarding house in front of the business, for which Wahid allegedly deducted $40 per week from the employees’ pay, prosecutors said. The boarding house did not have heat or hot water and was infested with insects, prosecutors said.
The defendants also employed two Muslim individuals to slaughter the chickens as required under Halal rules, and forced them to go on working at the slaughterhouse, prosecutors said. They were not given gloves, masks or proper soap, prosecutors said.
When the victims complained about the hours and the working conditions, the suspects allegedly threatened to call police, prosecutors said. The slaughterhouse workers were afraid of being deported and went on working until health inspectors closed the business, prosecutors said.
The human trafficking charge of conspiracy to commit forced labor carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said. The charge of harboring undocumented persons for financial gain carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while the violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act carry six months in jail and a $10,000 fine, prosecutors said.