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Labor trafficking charges levied against three former TR business owners

Pictured is the former location of Broadway Market Tuesday. Three former owners of the business, Ikbahl Singh Machhal, Kartar Chand, and Shila Devi were charged with labor trafficking by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, accused of labor trafficking a now 33-year-old woman under the auspices of marriage. (COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON)

By Robert Tomlinson
News Director

LANSING — Three former owners of the Broadway Market convenience store in Three Rivers were charged Tuesday by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office with two charges related to human trafficking.

According to a press release from Attorney General Dana Nessel, Ikbahl Singh Machhal, 40, Kartar Chand, 67, and Shila Devi, 66, all of Three Rivers, were each charged with one count of Human Trafficking – Forced Labor and one count of Human Trafficking Enterprise. Each count is a felony that carries 10 years in prison.

“Labor trafficking is a hidden crime that often goes undetected,” Nessel said in the release. “This woman’s existence was reduced entirely to service toward this business, and she suffered greatly throughout her years in Michigan and at the Broadway Market. I am grateful for the collaboration between the Three Rivers Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, YWCA Kalamazoo, and the prosecutors in my office for bringing such horrible acts to light, pursuing justice for this victim, and the roles they each played in liberating her from her own family.”

According to Nessel, the trio are alleged to have labor-trafficked a woman, now 33, to the United States from India under the auspices of marriage. Nessel said the defendants allegedly began trafficking the victim in 2012 when the family moved the woman from Pennsylvania to Michigan when the victim’s husband, Machhal, and in-laws Chand and Devi, came to own the Broadway Market convenience store on East Broadway Street in Three Rivers.

Shortly after, Nessel said, the victim began working at the store and allegedly was not paid for her labor. The trio is accused of requiring the victim to work eight to nine hours a day, seven days a week, against her will and under threat of “severe physical, mental, and emotional abuse.”

This allegedly continued for eight years, according to Nessel, until 2020, when the victim was able to leave her home with the assistance of the YWCA of Kalamazoo and local law enforcement after Machhal was charged with domestic violence in October 2020.

“This case highlights the fact that forced labor is an issue that can affect any community and we must all remain vigilant,” Shawn Gibson, the acting special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) bureau in Detroit, said in the release. “I want to commend the victim in this case for their bravery in coming forward and all the law enforcement professionals and community partners who pursued justice.”

According to the release, Nessel said Three Rivers Police Department officer Matt Kilbourn uncovered the alleged scheme after he reportedly identified signs of labor trafficking during a hospital visit with the victim after suspected domestic violence.

The YWCA was also credited, as well as HSI, with bringing charges against Machhal, Chand and Devi.

“There is a community here at YWCA Kalamazoo and beyond to support labor trafficking survivors, on survivors’ terms,” Susan Rosas, CEO of YWCA Kalamazoo, said in the release. “A just movement requires community partnership from YWCA’s advocacy, housing, legal services, and therapy teams, law enforcement, and a network of dedicated service providers. For survivors who wish to seek justice, this landmark case sends a loud message that justice is indeed possible in Michigan.”

“Human trafficking is prevalent throughout the State of Michigan and often hides in places one would not expect,” Assistant Attorney General Melissa Palepu, chair of the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission, said in the release. “All too often vulnerable individuals are trafficked by those close to them, such as family and friends and their abuse is often hidden in plain sight. This is especially true when it comes to labor trafficking.”

Machhal and Devi were arraigned in 3B District Court following their arrest by law enforcement officers from Three Rivers Police Department and HSI on April 29. They were each granted bond in the amount of $1 million and, should they make bond, their passports will be confiscated by the Court. Chand has been charged but not arrested, having reportedly fled to India. 

Machhal and Devi are expected to appear in 3B District Court on May 14 at 8:30 a.m. for a probable cause conference.

Victims of human trafficking or those who have identified someone they think may need help can contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at (888) 373-7888 or text 233733.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or

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