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SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Department of Labor (USDL) has recovered $1.1 million for 50 Mexican nationals, some paid as little as $2.43 an hour, from two companies operating in the San Diego area, officials said.

Freig Carrillo Forwarding Inc., a custom broker company that provides logistic and transportation services for goods traveling between U.S. and Mexico, was ordered to pay $1 million in back wages and damages to 35 workers, $400,000 of which must be paid within 15 days with monthly payments of $16,928 for three years, USDL stated in a news release. They also owe $26,215 in civil money penalties for its violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the department said.

“The court’s action follows a division investigation of Freig Carrillo Forwarding’s pay practices from December 2019 through December 2021 that found the employer denied minimum wage and overtime wages to Mexican nationals working at its San Diego warehouses,” USDL said. “On average, investigators determined that the company paid workers as little as $3.24 and that they typically paid workers in Mexican Pesos for workweeks that averaged nearly 45 hours at a flat rate of $180-$200 per week.”

The other company, ACV Logistics Inc., which provides transportation, import-export and international relocation services to industrial, commercial and residential customers in the U.S., paid some workers as little as $2.43 an hour, the department said about payroll records from April 7, 2020 to April 6, 2022. The employer was required to pay $70,104 in back wages and liquidated damages to 15 Mexican nationals, per the division. ACV Logistics Inc. also owed $12,105 in civil money penalties for its FLSA violations.

Since 2021, more than $2.2 million has been recovered by USDL from other San Diego employers after the department’s Wage and Hour Division discovered similar labor practices to exploit workers, according to officials.

The USDL says they, as well as the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego, are “working together to ensure Mexican nationals in the region are aware of their labor rights as U.S. workers, including the right to report labor violations without fear of threats and intimidation.”

The division enforces the law regardless of a worker’s immigration status and can speak confidentially with callers in more than 200 languages. For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.