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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

It Is Easier To Catch The Small Fry

Meet Michael A. Ramos, San Bernardino County District Attorney. He has just filed criminal charges in the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company’s mistreatment of downer cows.

We are not, at least at this point, going to see Westland/Hallmark President Steve Mendell being taken away in handcuffs. No, neither Mendell nor any other Westland/Hallmark corporate officials being "frog-marched" passed the media.

No, but according to the Los Angeles Times "Daniel Ugarte Navarro of Pomona faces up to eight years and eight months in prison if convicted of five felony counts of animal cruelty and three misdemeanor counts of illegal movement of a non-ambulatory animal. Navarro, who was a head pen manager at Hallmark Meat Packing, was fired last month after the release of the video by the Humane Society of the United States.

A pen manager? The LA Times also reports "authorities today also filed three misdemeanor counts against 32-year-old Luis Sanchez of Chino, who worked directly under Navarro and was also fired last month. Sanchez faces up to three years in prison if convicted.  Here is a great quote from the LA Times:

Neither Navarro nor Sanchez appeared at their arraignments Friday afternoon at a Chino courthouse. Warrants were issued for their arrest.

Reached at his home Friday, Sanchez, a father of two, said he regretted his actions and that he was only following orders.  "I did it because they ordered me to. I obeyed them; if not, I lost my job," Sanchez said in Spanish. "I knew it was illegal but they obliged me to do it." Sanchez said he is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico and that he worked at Hallmark for six years before he was fired last month. He is not represented by an attorney.

Perhaps we should hire one for them.  We guess Sanchez was trying to work his way up to "pen manager." He was probably the other guy fired immediately by Westland/Hallmark after the Humane Society went public with its videotape.

"Downer" cows, which are many more times more likely to spread Mad Cow disease, were being routinely mistreated at the Westland/Hallmark Chino slaughterhouse. Are we to believe that responsibility for these practices stop with a "pen manager" and his trusty companion?

Schools nationwide have been forced to pull beef from their menus and leave it stacked in their freezers until this mess is cleaned up. On one hand, we have to give D.A. Ramos credit for filing at least some criminal charges in this matter. However, one has to wonder where is the U.S. Justice Department?

Or how about Homeland Security? What’s more important than protecting the security of the food supply going into every school lunch program in the country.  There really are better ways to humanely deal with sick and injured cows.

Maybe if the feds would put their considerable resources to work they could find away to charge someone higher up than a "pen manager." D.A. Ramos says "We want to send the message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated."

That message Mr. Ramos would be better sent by charging those in charge.

  • Bix

    Every time I come to your blog and read these stories, I leave feeling dejected.
    You ask important questions … Does product quality assurance and the protocol for animal treatment truly lie with the pen manager? I mean, does it? And why, if the repercussions reverberate nationally, doesn’t a national institution (e.g. US Justice Dept., Homeland Security, as you mentioned) give a hoot?
    How off the mark would I be in assuming that the answer to those questions lies in some company’s profits?
    Dejected, I tell you…

  • Hallmark and Westland Meat Packing Company of Chino, California establishment is recalling approximately 143,383,823 pounds of raw and frozen beef products

    The problems at Westland and Hallmark began with abusing cattle, moved into a ban of its product from the market, then on to criminal violations. We now need to get this front and center before a congressional Investigation. The Largest…