Posts tagged: farms
Reports of a camel on a property in eastern Spokane County led to the recent arrest of a mother and daughter duo already charged with animal cruelty.
The camel belonged to a neighbor, but animal control officers say Kelly J. Covey, 49, had two dogs in her camper - a violation of a court order. The restriction has been in place since a Jan. 29 raid at the property, 6204 N. Idaho Road, that led to charges against Covey, her mother, Carol McMullen, 70, and Mullen's son, James W. McMullen.
In addition to the camel, SCRAPS investigators found cows and llamas at 6204 N. Idaho Road that also violated court orders.
Carol McMullen has previous convictions for animal cruelty; she was arrested again last week for violating her release conditions. Covey was booked into jail Friday.
The family faces several felony animal cruelty charges after 123 farm animals and pets were seized in January.
Officers found 78 dead animals on the property, located between State Line and Newman Lake.
Authorities are asking for help identifying the owners of dogs that are believed to be attacking farm animals in southern Stevens County.
The dogs pictured are thought to be responsible for the deaths of animals in the areas of Bittrich Antler, Scotts Valley Road and Casberg Burroughs Road as well as the 6800 to 7200 block of Highway 291.
Photos from a camera set up at the location of a previous attack recorded images of the dogs when they returned.
Anyone with information is asked to call (509) 684-2555 or 1-800-572-0947.
Kay Buck, left, executive director of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery Trafficking, speaks at a news conference Wednesday, April 20, 2011, to announce the filing of a human trafficking lawsuit that stretches across California , Hawaii, and Washington. Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC in the Los Angeles District, center, and Chanchanit Martorell, executive director for the Thai Community Development Center, listens in.
By AMY TAXIN, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal agency has filed lawsuits claiming Thai workers were physically abused and forced to live in rat-infested housing after being recruited by a California-based labor contractor to work on farms in Hawaii and Washington.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it was the largest human trafficking case to date pursued by the agency in the agriculture industry.
The two lawsuits filed Tuesday involved 200 workers in Washington state and Hawaii against Beverly Hills-based Global Horizons Inc. along with six farms in Hawaii and two in Eastern Washington.
“Global subjected the claimants to uninhabitable housing, insufficient food and kitchen facilities, inadequate pay, significant gaps in work, visa and certification violations, suspension, deportation, and/or physical violence,” the legal action states.
Global Horizons lured Thai workers to the U.S. between 2003 and 2007 with promises of steady jobs and agricultural visas, then confiscated their passports and threatened to deport them if they complained about conditions, commission officials said.
The workers lived in dilapidated, rat-infested rooms — where many didn't have beds — and were often threatened and physically abused in the fields, officials said. They also were isolated from non-Thai workers, who were believed to work under different conditions.
“Once they arrived here in the United States, the story of discrimination began,” Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC in Los Angeles, said Wednesday at a news conference announcing the legal action.
Global Horizons could not be immediately reached for comment because the phone numbers listed on its website were not working.
The EEOC is seeking back pay and up to $300,000 in damages for each of the workers. Attorneys said they could not estimate how much was owed in wages and expected the number of workers in the case would increase.
Global Horizons recruited Thai workers under the federal government's agricultural guest worker program, known as H-2A. The company subjected workers to intolerable conditions, while the farms turned a blind eye or failed to know about the practices of the contractor, the lawsuits state.
Chanchanit Martorell, executive director of the Thai Community Development Center, said her organization received its first report of abuse from a worker who escaped from a farm in Hawaii in 2003.
More workers came forward with similar claims about different farms that contracted with Global Horizons in different states, she said.
Workers said they had undertaken exorbitant debts in Thailand, with many using their family's land as collateral to guarantee recruitment fees they had to pay in the U.S.
Many workers were not given the jobs or wages they were promised and were forced to endure threats and abuse, Martorell said.
On one Hawaiian farm, workers were so hungry they ate the leaves of plants behind an abandoned schoolhouse where they slept, she said. Workers also were housed in a freight container, where wooden shelves were used as beds, she said.
Martorell said her organization helped workers file claims with the EEOC and secure a special visa intended for trafficking victims. About 1,100 Thai workers were brought into the country by Global Horizons, she said.
Attorney Clare Hanusz, who represents nearly 100 Thai laborers who claim discrimination, said the workers had to wait until now for action after making complaints about conditions that occurred years ago.
“It seems like now the EEOC is playing catch-up,” Hanusz said. “The way they're going about it, I don't really understand. But I'm glad they're doing something.”
Six Global Horizons recruiters and two Thai labor recruiters were previously indicted in federal court in Hawaii on charges of luring 600 workers from Thailand with promises of lucrative jobs before confiscating their passports and failing to honor their labor contracts.
The indictment said workers paid between $9,000 and $26,500 in recruitment fees and worked in a number of states, including Mississippi and Utah.
Supervisors threatened to send the workers back to Thailand when they complained about a lack of work and poor living conditions, knowing many would be afraid to return because of the substantial debts incurred to finance the trip, court papers said.
Defendants cited in the latest EEOC lawsuits include Captain Cook Coffee Co., Del Monte Fresh Produce, Kauai Coffee Co., Kelena Farms Inc., Mac Farms of Hawaii and Maui Pineapple Co., all in Hawaii, along with Valley Fruit Orchards of Wapato, Wash., and Green Acre Farms of Harrah, Wash.
Messages left at three of the Hawaii farms seeking comment were not immediately returned. Del Monte said it would have a statement later in the day. Captain Cook Coffee Co. said it had not yet reviewed the suit. It was not immediately possible to reach Kelena Farms. John Verbrugge of Valley Fruit and Jim Morford of Green Acre Farms did not immediately return telephone messages.
Also on Wednesday, the EEOC announced it had filed a lawsuit in Mississippi against marine services company Signal International alleging 500 Indian welders and pipe-fitters faced discrimination and substandard living conditions in Mississippi and Texas. Signal officials declined to comment on pending litigation.
The suits came amid a push at the EEOC to focus on human trafficking cases.
Associated Press writer Mark Niesse contributed to this report from Honolulu. Shannon Dininny contributed to this report from Yakima, Wash.
MARSING, Idaho (AP) — To his neighbors, he was Jay Shaw, the guy with the vaguely New York accent. He was known for fixing computers, buying everything with cash, raising cows and knowing how to handle a gun.
To the FBI, he was a New England mobster who vanished in 1994 after a botched attempt to whack his boss.
On Wednesday, the 42-year-old dark-haired man, dressed in a yellow jumpsuit and his hands cuffed behind his back, strolled into a courtroom in Boise, sat down at a table and spoke calmly to a judge.
“My name is Enrico M. Ponzo,” he said.
After the judge read a long list of charges against him, Ponzo replied: “Not guilty, your honor.”
Ponzo, 42, (pictured in 1994) appeared relaxed during his 40-minute court appearance, at times smiling at a handful of friends nearby and exchanging laughs with his attorney. He told the judge he is originally from Boston.
To the people who knew him in Marsing, a farming and ranching town southwest of Boise, the news about the man they called by his nickname “Jay” for the past decade pushed them to dig deep into their memories for signs of an elaborate hoax.
“It was probably all just fiction,” said rancher Bodie Clapier, 52, (pright) whose family owns about 1,000 acres and lived next door.
Authorities said Ponzo had been living in Marsing under the name Jeffrey Shaw, but they declined to say how the FBI discovered him. During his arrest Monday, agents seized 38 firearms, $15,000 and a 100-ounce bar of either gold or silver.
Ponzo's farm is pictured above.
Click the link below to read the rest of the story by Associated Press writer Jessie L. Bonner.