Gilroy, CA Indian Liquor Store Owners Balwinder Singh Mann & Amarjit Mann Arrested for Labor Human Trafficking
November 9, 2020 - Gilroy, CA Indian liquor store owner Balwinder Singh Mann (66) and his wife, Amarjit Mann (66) were arrested today on charges of labor human trafficking for locking a man in a liquor store, a violation of section 236.1(a) of the California Penal Code.
In addition to the labor human trafficking, the other criminal charges against California Indian liquor stores owners Balwinder Singh Mann and Amarjit Mann include:
- Wage theft under section 487 (a)
- Conspiracy, a violation of section 182 (a)
- Witness intimidation as per section 136.1
- Failing to maintain workers compensation insurance (section 3700.5) (a)
And one of the victims worked 15 hour shifts, seven days a week, slept in a storage room, bathed in a mop bucket in liquor store, and was never paid.
According to the case documents:
..the suspects – who own a profitable liquor store and market - had stolen more than $150,000 in wages from the victim and three other employees.Gilroy, CA Indian liquor store owners Balwinder Singh Mann and Amarjit Mann were scheduled to be arraigned today at 1:35PM in Department 24 at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.
The Manns engaged in predatory recruitment of their workers from India and lured them with promises of travel and financial independence.
In late February 2020, an Alcoholic Beverage Control inspection discovered the victim at M&M Liquors located on Westwood Drive in Gilroy. The agent contacted a man who appeared to be living in a small storage room in the back area of the store – a major red flag for human trafficking. Agents noted a thin mattress lying over milk crates, an office desk contained folded clothes in each drawer. On top of the desk there were pots and pans for cooking and next to the desk, there was a mop sink with a faucet approximately three feet off the ground and a shampoo bottle. Investigators later learned the victim was bathing from the mop sink.
The investigation further concluded that the man had flown from India in 2019 expecting to travel to the U.S. with the couple. Instead they took his money and passport and put him to work without pay or a key to leave the liquor store at night.
Three other men – two who worked at the liquor store and one who worked at the market across the street - told agents that they worked marathon hours and were paid a pittance. One said he had no idea about the concept of a minimum wage.
If convicted on charges of multiple penal code violations, Balwinder Singh Mann and Amarjit Mann could face prison time.
The investigation against owners of M&M Liquors and Gavilan Market was conducted jointly by California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and Santa Clara County District Attorney.
Gilroy, CA Indian liquor store owners Balwinder Singh Mann and Amarjit Mann must be presumed innocent until and unless the charges are proved in a court of law.