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Some tomato imports detained over forced labor practices

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at all U.S. ports of entry are detaining fresh tomatoes produced by the tomato farm Agropecuarios Tom S.A. de C.V., Horticola S.A de C.V. and their subsidiaries, according to a U.S. CBP press release.

CBP issued a Withhold Release Order against Agropecuarios, Horticola and their subsidiaries based on information that reasonably indicates the use of forced labor against its workers. CBP identified at least five of the International Labor Organization’s indicators of forced labor during its investigation, including abuse of vulnerability, deception, withholding of wages, debt bondage, and abusive working and living conditions.  This WRO will only affect fresh tomato imports into the United States from this specific farm and its subsidiaries.

In October 2020, Mexican authorities took action against allegations of forced labor conditions on the same tomato farm, demonstrating the Mexican government’s shared commitment to protecting the human rights of workers.

“The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement established a strong framework for CBP to work closely with our Mexican and Canadian counterparts,” said Troy Miller, CBP acting commissioner.  “We trust that the foundations we’ve built with our Mexican partners will allow for a collaborative and multi-lateral response to forced labor enforcement actions within North American supply chains.”

Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307 prohibits the importation of merchandise produced, wholly or in part, by convict labor, forced labor, and/or indentured labor, including forced or indentured child labor.  CBP detains shipments of goods suspected of being imported in violation of this statute. Importers of detained shipments have the opportunity to export their shipments or demonstrate that the merchandise was not produced with forced labor.

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