Rafael Sanchez Herrera was described by his attorney as "a lower-level employee taking orders from management" at Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co., which is at the center of the largest meat recall in U.S. history. But who exactly is management? Herrera's boss was Daniel Ugarte Navarro, who faces felony charges of animal cruelty. Whether anyone higher up might be implicated is not known. For now, Herrera's attorney, Mario Martinez, deputy public defender in San Bernardino County, is working on a plea agreement. Herrera, who was earning nine bucks an hour, faces three misdemeanor charges of moving cows that couldn't walk or stand using equipment (he also faces a pending felony charge for possession of drugs for sale from 2005, as well as another misdemeanor charge involving drugs). His pre-trial hearing was delayed until March 14. From the WSJ:
In an interview a few weeks ago, Mr. Navarro told an investigator from the Chino police department who asked him about the undercover video that he was under pressure from his supervisor to ensure that at least 500 cows a day were slaughtered at the Chino plant. If he didn't meet the quota, his supervisor, Pablo Salas, would get angry, he told the investigator. Mr. Salas was suspended in the wake of the video's release, Anthony Magidow, the general manager of the plant, said in an interview last week. But Mr. Magidow said fingers were being unfairly pointed at Mr. Salas, who had many duties at the plant and would have had a hard time monitoring all the activity that occurred outside the plant in the cattle pen. Mr. Salas could not be reached. The company's president, Steve Mendell, did not respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Daily Bulletin said the meat recall isnít doing much to the area's reputation. "This situation has unfairly labeled the county and the Chino area with something it doesn't deserve," said Paul Herrera, spokesman for the county agency.
Because of national coverage surrounding the recall, Herrera said many people in the United States are now discovering Chino. The city has long been known for its agricultural roots, but efforts are ongoing to establish it as a center of urban development. "For many people, they're hearing about Chino for the first time, and they're hearing about the mistreatment of cattle," Herrera said. "Chino is not exactly a rural area. It has million-dollar homes, and Chino's population has very little to do with the cattle industry, but they get painted with that brush.