The Harvest of Shame

Six Immokalee, Fla., family members were indicted today by a federal grand jury for enslaving Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants and forcing them into agricultural labor. The Justice Department announced that a 17-count indictment accused Cesar Navarrete and Geovanni Navarrete of beating, threatening, and locking workers in trucks to force them to work on tomato farms. The defendants underpaid the workers, according to the indictment, and threatened physical harm if workers left their employmen

Six Immokalee, Fla., family members were indicted today by a federal grand jury for enslaving Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants and forcing them into agricultural labor. The Justice Department announced that a 17-count indictment accused Cesar Navarrete and Geovanni Navarrete of beating, threatening, and locking workers in trucks to force them to work on tomato farms. The defendants underpaid the workers, according to the indictment, and threatened physical harm if workers left their employment before their debts had been repaid. Senator Bernie Sanders was in Immokalee today and saw the trailer where the workers allegedly were enslaved. "The conditions here are a disaster. People are being exploited ruthlessly," Sanders said. The senator was meeting with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which has struggled for years to improve working and living conditions for farm hands in Florida's tomato fields. Sanders is supporting an effort to persuade Burger King Corp. to join other fast-food chains that have raised the pay for tomato pickers by paying a penny a pound more for the product.