Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Buried Story Of The Week

What if there was a news story that combined a federal raid on a meat processing plant after a long period of surveillance with agents actually employed to gather evidence, culminating in hundreds of arrests, a shocking history of gross violations concerning sanitary conditions, a massive cover up of hiring illegal immigrants, sexual abuse, child labor, gun running, a clash of racial and religious communities of epic proportions and even a methamphetamine lab.
Wouldn't you think this story would have legs? Apparently it doesn't.

There's a town called Postville, Iowa, that was briefly in the news a week ago because a meat processing plant nearby was raided in an operation of unprecedented size. The place is called Agriprocessors and hundreds of people were arrested, a haul so big the cops rented a stadium to handle the crowds Agriprocessors is owned by the Rubashkins, Hasidic Jews from Brooklyn, N.Y.
The story of them opening a meat processing plant in the heartland and their tense relationship with whitebread locals is told by Stephen G. Bloom in his book "Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America"


This saga is beyond immense because apparently the plant was violating any number of laws with impunity for years, operating with a wink and a nod from anyone and everyone who was tasked with oversight. It's disgusting practices were well known - the place was dinged for health and safety violations over the years. "At the end of March, the Iowa Division of Labor Services cited the company for 39 workplace safety and health standards and fined the company $182,000."

PETA went undercover several times to document and videotape the horrors:

"AgriProcessors, the world's largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse, has been ignoring the Jewish commitment to compassion and federal law by mutilating fully conscious animals, shocking them in the face, and slaughtering them in a way that has allowed many to stand and attempt to flee, even minutes after their throats had been slit."

The main reason why the place was busted on May 12 was because they hired illegals, about 80% of it's work force. According to the author of the book cited above the plant had a hard time getting the help it needed because the locals refused to be employed at low pay and to do what's largely understood as the most dangerous job in the country. That's when they started bringing in the foreigners. The town of Postville was tremendously impacted and changed forever, but that's another huge story. This was the largest immigration raid in US history and almost 400 illegals were busted. 85 of them were convicted and sentenced earlier today.

But there's something about this that's keeping it out of the MSM, and some politicians refused to talk about it. Like I mentioned, Rubashkin apparently ignored the law and got away with it for years. Authorities had to know about the sudden influx of foreigners into a small midwestern community. Not only were health and safety laws violated, even the claim of kosher practices was bogus as visiting rabbis were horrified at what they saw. So why is this story buried? I went to CNN, ABC and CBS and there was exactly nothing on their sites apart from a blurb about the bust during an archive search. Maybe one part of the affidavit for the raid gives a hint, one of the undercover agents happened across a little side operation that was a tad interesting:


I've got to say that a closed Hasidic community would be a perfect cover for something like this. The managers repeatedly showed little regard for any number of laws and less regard for the very religious strictures it pretended to observe, so a meth lab isn't that far fetched. This is a 60 acre facility surrounded be security and a chain link fence, a pretty damn private place except when getting raided by the feds. Methamphetamine use has exploded in exactly this area of the country in the past few years. Must be a pretty lucrative business.

But I guess we'll never know the real story. The only people busted were the illegals, mostly from Guatemala, and there's apparently no heat on the Hasidics and they're not being charged with anything. Even though their operation was dirty and unethical, they get to keep their kosher certification. It is a large operation after all, people have jobs to do and people have to eat, donchaknow. A few inconvenient things can be overlooked.

Except that it's strange that a week after the Agriprocessors bust there's this - The Biggest Beef Recall Ever In American History


Blogger spooked said...

Good work on this. I'm pretty sure there was some nasty crap going on that we will probably never know about-- because the owners had connections?

21/5/08 4:02 AM  
Blogger nolocontendere said...

I think there was probably some falling out between factions or some inside pressure, otherwise they still wouldn't have been touched. But the feds are obviously not going to follow through for some reason.
That the story just "went away" speaks volumes. Largest bust in history? Jeez. And it's funny how the timeline of Agriprocessors and the beginnings of the heartland meth epidemic just happen to coincide.

21/5/08 6:13 AM  

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