NEWARK, NJ – Two New Jersey businessmen were arrested following a federal investigation of a Halal poultry slaughterhouse in Middlesex County, the US Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) reported.
Mohammad Abdul Wahid of Queens, New York, and Mohammed Iqbal Kabir of Bronx, New York, were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit human trafficking-related offenses, conspiracy to harbor undocumented persons for financial gain and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Wahid and Kabir were released on $75,000 unsecured bond each, with home confinement and electronic monitoring, ICE said.
According to documents filed in the case, Wahid and Kabir allegedly employed undocumented workers who were paid about $290 a week in cash and would typically work 70 to 100 hours a week working six or seven days a week at a poultry slaughterhouse in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Two Muslim workers slaughtered the live poultry, and other workers cleaned and prepared the birds for sale.
ICE said that employees were not paid more for working more hours, and they did not receive overtime pay. Additionally, the workers lived in a boarding house in front of the business, for which Wahid allegedly deducted $40 a week from the workers’ pay. The boarding house did not have heat or hot water and was infested with insects, according to the agency.
The complaint against Wahid and Kabir also alleges that two Muslim employees who slaughtered the chicken were forced to continue working at the slaughterhouse. The defendants allegedly threatened to call police when the Muslim individuals complained about the hours they were working and the conditions of the facility — they had no gloves, masks or proper soap. ICE said the victims were afraid of being arrested and deported, so they continued to work until health inspectors closed the business.
The human trafficking charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The harboring undocumented persons for financial gain carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The Fair Labor Standards Act violations carry a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of $10,000.