USA TODAY NETWORK published its first in an investigative series, Rigged, today about the mistreatment of truckers based out of two major California ports. 

Port trucking companies buried their poor, immigrant workers in debt, worked them past exhaustion and then left them with nothing.

This ongoing investigation shows how executives pressed drivers to lease trucks they can’t afford. They use that debt to force drivers behind the wheel — up to 20 hours a day — for pay that sometimes drops to pennies on the hour. Then companies fire them and take their trucks – along with thousands they have paid toward buying them.

The series also explores the role of retailers, as big box stories such as Target, Home Depot and Costco heavily depend on the performance of these truckers. Retail giants often hired trucking companies that had been accused of labor violations and spent millions to fight lawmakers who tried to pass worker protections.