Fresh allegations of “human slavery” emerge from the tomato fields of Immokalee

Federal prosecutors say workers picking tomatoes locked in trucks, chained, beaten by bosses for trying to escape; Four arrested

November 20th was a momentous day in Immokalee.

On November 20th, according to court documents filed last week, three tomato pickers made their way to the Collier County Sheriff’s office after having escaped two days earlier through the ventilation hatch of a box truck where they had been held against their will by their employer.  The three men told police of an Immokalee-based tomato harvesting slavery ring in which workers “were beaten and forced to work exclusively for the Navarrete family,” according to an article entitled, “Family accused of enslaving workers at Immokalee camp” in the Naples Daily News (12/7/07).

On that same day, November 20th, Andre Raghu, global managing director with the supply chain monitoring group “Intertek,” told the readers of the Miami Herald that his company’s audits of Florida tomato operations “have found no slave labor.”  Mr. Raghu was quoted in the Herald as part of a high-profile press junket organized by Burger King and their new partners in public relations, the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange (FTGE), to counter CIW claims of a human rights crisis in Florida’s tomato fields.

And so, on November 20th, while well-paid executives assured the world that all is well in the Florida’s fields, workers in Immokalee were recounting to Sheriff’s deputies how they had to break out of a locked U-Haul truck to escape from their employers.

Read more about the latest slavery investigation out of Immokalee here…