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Dustin Higgs heads to the death chamber in the 13th and final federal execution of Trump’s term

Dustin John Higgs, 48, is due to be executed by lethal injection on Friday

The federal execution of convicted murderer Dustin John Higgs has been carried out, marking the final death sentence to be completed by the Department of Justice under President Donald Trump.

Higgs, 48, was pronounced dead at 1.23am on Saturday after receiving a lethal injection of pentobarbital in the federal death chamber at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. 

Higgs conspired with two other men to kidnap and murder three young women in Washington DC in one night in January 1996. 

His lawyers have argued it is ‘arbitrary and inequitable’ to execute Higgs while Willis Haynes, the man who pulled the trigger in the murders, was spared a death sentence. In his final words, Higgs protested that he was innocent of masterminding the murders. 

‘I’d like to say I am an innocent man,’ he said, strapped to the gurney in the execution chamber. ‘I did not order the murders.’

As the injection was administered, louds sobs of a woman crying inconsolably echoed for several minutes from a room reserved for Higgs’ family, as his eyes rolled back in his head, showing the whites of his eyes before he stopped moving entirely.

It marked the third federal execution at Terre Haute in four days, and the 13th during Trump’s term after he resumed executions in July despite the pandemic, making him the most prolific president in carrying out death sentences since Grover Cleveland in the 1800s. Higgs and an inmate executed on Thursday, Corey Johnson, both had COVID-19 when they were put to death.

The United States Penitentiary at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana is seen on Friday

The United States Penitentiary at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana is seen on Friday

The interior of the execution chamber in the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute is seen above. Higgs was strapped to the gurney and injected with pentobarbital, a powerful barbiturate

The interior of the execution chamber in the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute is seen above. Higgs was strapped to the gurney and injected with pentobarbital, a powerful barbiturate

An activist in opposition to the death penalty protests during a snowstorm outside of the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana on Thursday

An activist in opposition to the death penalty protests during a snowstorm outside of the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana on Thursday

The recent spree of executions is also the first time since Celveland’s term that a federal execution was carried out during the lame-duck period of a presidency. 

Trump resumed federal executions in July after a 17-year hiatus, although they had still been carried out at the state level. 

President-elect Joe Biden is an opponent of the death penalty and is expected to suspend federal executions when he takes office next week. 

The federal judge who presided over Higgs’ trial two decades ago says he ‘merits little compassion.’

‘He received a fair trial and was convicted and sentenced to death by a unanimous jury for a despicable crime,’ U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte wrote in a December 29 ruling.

Defense attorneys won temporary stays of execution this week for Higgs and another inmate, Corey Johnson, after arguing that their recent COVID-19 infections put them at greater risk of unnecessary suffering during the lethal injections. 

But higher courts overruled those decisions, allowing the executions to go forward, and Johnson was executed Thursday night. 

Shawn Nolan, one of Higgs’ attorneys, sees a clear political agenda in the unprecedented string of federal executions at the end of Trump’s presidency, with Higgs heading to the death chamber just five days before Biden’s inauguration. 

Trump has overseen 13 executions after he resumed executions in July despite the pandemic, making him the most prolific president in carrying out death sentences since Grover Cleveland

Trump has overseen 13 executions after he resumed executions in July despite the pandemic, making him the most prolific president in carrying out death sentences since Grover Cleveland

Higgs is seen in 2015 at the Federal Prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Higgs is the last federal inmate facing execution before President Donald Trump leaves office

Higgs is seen in 2015 at the Federal Prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. Higgs is the last federal inmate facing execution before President Donald Trump leaves office

‘In the midst of the pandemic and everything that´s going on right now in the country, it seems just insane to move forward with these executions,’ Nolan said recently. ‘And particularly for Dustin, who didn’t shoot anybody. He didn’t kill anybody.’

Higgs’ Dec. 19 petition for clemency says he has been a model prisoner and dedicated father to a son born shortly after his arrest. Higgs had a traumatic childhood and lost his mother to cancer when he was 10, the petition says.

‘Mr. Higgs’ difficult upbringing was not meaningfully presented to the jury at trial,’ his attorneys wrote. 

His death sentence was the first imposed in the modern era of the federal system in Maryland, which abolished the death penalty in 2013. 

Higgs’ shocking crimes: Conspired to kidnap and kill three women after an argument during a triple-date

In October 2000, a federal jury in Maryland convicted Higgs of first-degree murder and kidnapping in the killings of Tamika Black, 19; Mishann Chinn, 23; and Tanji Jackson, 21.

Higgs was 23 on the evening of January 26, 1996, when he, Willis Haynes and a third man, Victor Gloria, picked up the three women in Washington, DC, and drove them to Higgs’ apartment in Laurel, Maryland, to drink alcohol and listen to music. 

The men smoked pot late into the night, and before dawn the next morning an argument between Higgs and Tanji prompted her to grab a knife in the kitchen before Haynes persuaded her to drop it.

‘I am going to get you all f***ed up or robbed!’ Tanji shouted, according to Gloria’s testimony. In response, Higgs remarked to the other men that Tamika ‘do know a lot of n*****s.’

As Tamika left the apartment with the other women, she appeared to write down the license plate number of Higgs’ van, angering him, and the three women stormed off on foot. 

The three men chased after the women in Higgs’ van, a blue Mazda MPV. Haynes persuaded them to get into the vehicle.

Instead of taking them home, Higgs drove them to a secluded spot in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge, federal land in Laurel.

Higgs drove the three women to a secluded spot in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge (seen in a file photo) and handed his friend Willis Haynes a gun to kill them

Higgs drove the three women to a secluded spot in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge (seen in a file photo) and handed his friend Willis Haynes a gun to kill them

‘Aware at that point that something was amiss, one of the women asked if they were going to have to `walk from here´ and Higgs responded ‘something like that,” said an appeals court ruling upholding Higgs’ death sentence.

Higgs handed his pistol to Haynes, who shot all three women outside the van before the men left, Gloria testified.

‘Gloria turned to ask Higgs what he was doing, but saw Higgs holding the steering wheel and watching the shootings from the rearview mirror,’ said the 2013 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Investigators found Jackson’s day planner at the scene of the killings. It contained Higgs’ nickname, ‘Bones,’ his telephone number, his address number and the tag number for his van.

The jurors who convicted Haynes failed to reach a unanimous verdict on whether to impose a death sentence. A different jury convicted Higgs and returned a death sentence after a separate trial. Gloria pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the murders and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Higgs has argued that his death sentence must be thrown out because jurors failed to consider it as a ‘mitigating factor’ that Haynes was convicted of identical charges but sentenced to life in prison. 

The appeals court concluded that rational jurors could find that Higgs had the dominant role in the murders even though Haynes indisputably was the triggerman.

An activist in opposition to the death penalty protests during a snowstorm outside of the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana on Thursday ahead of Higgs' execution

An activist in opposition to the death penalty protests during a snowstorm outside of the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana on Thursday ahead of Higgs’ execution

In their clemency petition, Higgs´ lawyers said Gloria received a ‘substantial deal’ in exchange for his cooperation

‘Moreover,’ they wrote, ‘significant questions remain as to whether Mr. Gloria received the additional undisclosed benefit of having an unrelated state murder investigation against him dropped at the urging of federal officers to protect his credibility as the star witness. A federal death verdict should not rest on such a flimsy basis.’

Mishann worked with the children’s choir at a church, Tanji worked in the office at a high school and Tamika was a teacher’s aide at National Presbyterian School in Washington, according to the Washington Post.

On the day in 2001 when the judge formally sentenced Higgs to death, Tamika’s mother, Joyce Gaston, said it brought her little solace, the Post reported.

‘It’s not going to ever be right in my mind,’ Gaston said, ‘That was my daughter. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with it.’

How Trump used his final days to put to death the most federal prisoners since the 1880s

The number of federal death sentences carried out under Trump since 2020 is more than in the previous 56 years combined, reducing the number of prisoners on federal death row by nearly a quarter. 

It’s likely none of the around 50 remaining men will be executed anytime soon, with Biden signaling he’ll end federal executions.

The only woman on death row, Lisa Montgomery, was executed Wednesday for killing a pregnant woman, then cutting the baby out of her womb and claiming it as her own. She was the first woman executed in nearly 70 years.

Federal executions began as the coronavirus pandemic raged through prisons nationwide. Among those prisoners who got COVID-19 last month were Higgs and former drug trafficker Corey Johnson, who was executed Thursday. 

Some members of the execution teams have also previously tested positive for the virus.

Not since the waning days of Grover Cleveland’s presidency in the late 1800s has the U.S. government executed federal inmates during a presidential transition, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. 

Cleveland´s was also the last presidency during which the number of civilians executed federally was in the double digits in one year, 1896, during Cleveland´s second term.

The Trump administration has paid private executioners in cash and bought drugs from a secret pharmacy as part of a rush to execute federal prisoners, court documents obtained by ProPublica reveal. 

The court records, were reported in December, shed light on how the Trump administration is hurrying to use its final days to execute the federal inmates. 

Among the details included in court records are that private executioners have been paid in cash, drugs have been purchased from a pharmacy that failed quality tests and that executions have moved ahead in the middle of the night.

It is not clear why private contractors were hired to carry out the executions. A Bureau of Prisons lawyer was quoted in a deposition saying: ‘If we didn’t pay them in cash they probably wouldn’t participate’. 

One execution has gone ahead while an appeal was still pending.

Authorities also left Daniel Lewis Lee, who was the first federal inmate executed in July, strapped to a gurney while lawyers tried to remove a Supreme Court order, the court documents show. 

He was executed as soon as the government lawyers wiped out the legal obstacle. 

‘Today, Lee finally faced the justice he deserved,’ Barr said in a statement at the time. 

The White House has not commented on ProPublica’s report regarding the rush to execute the inmates. 

In a statement, the Justice Department said: ‘Seeking the death penalty and carrying out capital sentences is not a political issue, nor have political considerations influenced the department’s decisions. 

‘The death penalty is a law enforcement and public safety issue, and the department is obligated to carry forward these sentences regardless of who is the president or the attorney general.’    


Mother accused of negligence for the death of her daughter in Laval

The 7-year-old girl from Laval who was found dead was said to have suffered for days and suffered bodily harm for months, suggests her mother’s indictment, who appeared on Friday.

Flowers and a doggie were left in memory of the 7-year-old girl, found dead on January 3 in Laval.

Archive photo, Antoine Lacroix

Flowers and a doggie were left in memory of the 7-year-old girl, found dead on January 3 in Laval.

The 35-year-old woman, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, was arrested Friday morning by Laval police.

She faces two counts of criminal negligence causing death and assault on the victim.

However, the criminal negligence would have occurred “between December 30, 2020 and January 3, 2021”, the date of death, indicates the act of denunciation.

According to our information, the young victim was found by the emergency services in a dismal condition, with the body mostly covered with burns from boiling water, bruises and a broken arm.

All this therefore suggests that the injuries dated back several days.

“In terms of proof, you will understand that I cannot speak about it, at this stage of the procedures, to protect the ongoing legal process,” indicated the Crown prosecutor in the case, Nektarios Tzortzinas.

Battered girl

But, equally troubling, the period during which the assault allegedly occurred would be “between 1er June 2020 and January 3 ”. We can therefore assume that the little girl was beaten by her own mother for months.

The mother did not say a word during her appearance. The woman of Afghan origin needed an interpreter so that she could follow the proceedings. However, she nodded several times when she heard what was being translated to her.

In the vicinity of the residence where the tragedy occurred, located on rue Le Boutillier, it was still misunderstood Friday, nearly two weeks after the events.

  • Listen to Yves Poirier with the latest details about this case on QUB radio:

Other arrests?

However, several people wondered why only the mother was arrested, and not the father and grandparents, who also lived there.

The crown attorney replied, “This is the evidence we have at this point. “

On the side of the Laval Police Department (SPL), it was not possible to confirm whether further arrests were planned. However, the investigation is still ongoing.

“We are still awaiting the full autopsy report. We have a draft right now. There are other expertises to be made, ”explained Stéphanie Beshara, spokesperson for the SPL.

♦ The mother will return to court on Monday to undergo her release investigation. She remains incarcerated in the meantime.

California Headline USA Los Angeles

They seek a Latino suspected of hitting his mother and stepfather to death in California | The State

File photo of a Los Angeles County Fire Department officer in conversation with a police officer.


LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Police searches for a 44-year-old Latino suspected of murdering his mother and stepfather with a baseball bat inside a home in the area.

He Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) yesterday identified Nelson Fermín Garibay as the suspect in carrying out the brutal attack last Monday at the home of the 73-year-old stepfather and the 65-year-old mother in the city ​​of Hacienda Heights, in the east sector of the county.

According to investigators, Garibay also attacked and injured his 37-year-old brother.

The officers who responded to the emergency call were allegedly greeted by the suspect’s brother, who reported on the violent assault. The wounded man took the agents inside the house, where the two fatal victims were found.

Each of the elderly suffered significant head trauma and were pronounced dead at the scene, the LASD reported.

Garibay allegedly attacked his mother and stepfather with a baseball bat, and then left the area in a Toyota pickup.

The woman was identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office as Irma Ruiz de Garibay.

The authorities are asking for the collaboration of the public to find the Hispanic, who is considered dangerous and who is armed, so they asked not to approach him and only report to the police.



COVID-19: China announces its first death in eight months

BEIJING | China recorded the first death from COVID-19 in its territory in eight months, health officials in a country said Thursday (local time) battling resurgences of the epidemic it had largely contained.

• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic

The death occurred in Hebei Province, the National Health Commission said, without giving further information. It is in this province that several cities were recently placed under lockdown after the outbreak of contaminations.

The last death linked to the pandemic in mainland China was in May 2020.

Headline USA

They execute Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on death row convicted of murdering a pregnant woman and taking her baby | The State

Lisa Montgomery was sentenced to the federal death penalty in 2004.

Wyandotte County Sheriff / EFE

WASHINGTON – The state of Indiana today executed Lisa montgomery, the only woman on death row in the United States, and the first to be executed in more than six decades.

The execution by lethal injection occurred at the Terre Haute prison complex, after the Supreme court lift the suspension that a federal court had ordered just hours before.

Lawyer alleges constitutional violation

“Our Constitution prohibits the execution of a person who cannot rationally understand his execution (…). The current administration knows this. And they killed her anyway, “denounced her lawyer Kelley Henry in a statement released by the media.

“Everyone who participated in the execution of Lisa Montgomery should be ashamed,” he added.

Lisa Montgomery, 52, was convicted in 2007 of killing a 23-year-old woman who was eight months pregnant in 2004 and extracting her baby, which was later recovered safe and sound by authorities.


Headline USA Los Angeles

US sets grim new COVID death record with nearly 4,500 fatalities in a day as toll hits 380K

US setnew COVID death record with nearly 4,500 fatalities in a day as toll hits 380K – more than the last 10 influenza seasons combined – and hard-hit LA County officials say children are APOLOGIZING to their dying relatives for spreading the virus

  • A staggering 4,470 Americans died from the virus between Monday evening and Tuesday evening, according to Johns Hopkins University
  • The total US death toll has now surpassed 380,000 – more than the past 10 flu seasons combined
  • The pandemic has brought hard-hit Los Angeles to its knees, with intensive care units at capacity and patients being treated in parking lots 
  • LA County health officials have urged residents to wear masks indoors to stop spread among family members 
  • Children in the city are reportedly apologizing to their elderly dying relatives for spreading the virus  


The United States has set a grim new record for daily COVID deaths as the pandemic continues to worsen across the country.  

A staggering 4,470 deaths Americans succumbed to the virus in the 24 hours to Tuesday evening, according to new data obtained by Johns Hopkins University. 

The total number of US citizens who have died from COVID-19 has now surpassed 380,000 – more than the past 10 flu seasons combined. 

Meanwhile, the number of COVID deaths recorded in the first 12 days of January alone has already eclipsed the number of virus fatalities recorded in each month from June to October last year. 

Already this month, 34,502 Americans have lost their lives to the virus. In contrast, 19,447 died from the desire during the entire 30 days of last June. 

Meanwhile, hospitalizations and case numbers also remain precariously high. 

On Tuesday, 230,000 Americans tested positive for the coronavirus, while 131, 326 people across the country were in hospital being treated for the disease. 

The situation is most dire in Los Angeles, which is experiencing the LA County health officials have urged residents to now wear masks inside their own homes to stop the virus spreading between family members.  

The United States has set a grim new record for daily COVID deaths as the pandemic continues to worsen across the country


Officials say the surging rates of COVID-19 in the city is likely tied to family gatherings that have taken place over Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

They also say children are apologizing to their elderly residents who have become sickened with the disease. 

‘One of the more heartbreaking conversations that our healthcare workers share is about these last words when children apologize to their parents and grandparents for bringing COVID into their homes for getting them sick,’  County Supervisor Hilda Solis told The Los Angeles Times. 

‘Please, for your loved ones, stay home. Stay safe. Keep your loved ones alive.’ 

Doctors in the city fear that reports of overcrowding have been keeping some sickly people from seeking medical care.

Medics are urging those who are elderly and are experiencing a shortness of breath to contact their healthcare pvidier. 

‘Even if hospitals are full, you have to go seek care or call your doctor,’ one doctor urged. 

‘The longer you wait for this disease. The less chance we have to give you some of the therapies that can help you get through this.’

As of Monday. Los Angeles County alone had clocked 932,908 cases, with 10 residents testing positive to the virus every minute. 

One person is dying from the virus every eight minutes in the county.  

Health officials there are scrambling to speed up the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, with plans to open large centers in order to have 500,00 healthcare workers receive their first jab by the end of the month. 

Headline USA Los Angeles

Mother of 6 Dies of Coronavirus 3 Days After Giving Birth | The State

The woman tested positive days before Christmas.

Alberto Valdes / EFE

A family in Los Angeles is going through an irreparable loss, after a mother of 6 children died of coronavirus just 3 days after giving birth to her last daughter.

The victim of COVID-19 was named Verónica Guevara-Girón, I was 37 years old and sHer nightmare began days before Christmas when she found out that she had tested positive just as she was in her eighth month of pregnancy.

“She began to say that she could not breathe … she developed a cough that did not go away, so they ended up taking her to the hospital,” explained her sister-in-law Nathalia Girón.

Verónica was only kept in the hospital with oxygen support but her situation worsened as the days progressed, so the doctors decided to induce labor 5 weeks before the scheduled date to try to save her and her baby.

The mother was fortunate to be able to hug her baby, since just one day after the cesarean she had to be connected to an artificial respirator until she finally passed away.



Recall: Pet Food Blamed in Death of 70 Dogs

By Ernie Mundell
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 12, 2021 (HealthDay News) — There’s an expanded nationwide recall of Sportmix pet food products underway, after links were found between a mold-borne toxin in the food and the deaths of 70 dogs, with 80 other dogs being sickened, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday.

The announcement expands upon a recall first issued on Dec. 30 by Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. At the time, the company said that at least 28 dogs had already died after eating Sportmix pet food.

Testing of the pet food products conducted by the Missouri Department of Agriculture found “very high levels of aflatoxins,” the FDA noted.

Aflatoxins are toxins produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus. They can trigger very serious illness in pets, and these poisons can be present even if the food doesn’t appear to be moldy.

On Monday, after reports of at least 70 canine deaths tied to the tainted food, Midwestern “expanded the recall to include all pet foods containing corn and manufactured in the company’s Oklahoma plant, and having an expiration date on or before July 9, 2022,” the FDA said in its statement.

The agency said not all of the dog deaths have been confirmed as caused by aflatoxin, but the FDA also stressed that “this count is approximate and may not reflect the total number of pets affected.”

The agency said it is conducting an ongoing investigation at the Oklahoma manufacturing facility.

In the meantime, consumers can go to the FDA site for a complete list of recalled Sportmix products. If consumers find the product in their home, they should “consult their veterinarian, especially if the pet is showing signs of illness,” the FDA said. “The pet owner should remove the food and make sure no other animals have access to the recalled product.”

Signs of aflatoxin illness in pets include:

  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • jaundice (yellowish tint to the eyes or gums due to liver damage)
  • diarrhea

Aflatoxins can attack and damage the liver over time, potentially causing liver failure and death.


The FDA noted that “pets are highly susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning because, unlike people, who eat a varied diet, pets generally eat the same food continuously over extended periods of time. If a pet’s food contains aflatoxins, the toxins could accumulate in the pet’s system as they continue to eat the same food.”

If you think your pet might have been sickened with aflatoxin-tainted pet food, bring the animal to a veterinarian. It’s helpful to take a picture of the pet food label, including the lot number, according to the FDA.

Besides throwing away all unused amounts of the recalled pet food, “sanitize pet food bowls, scoops, and storage containers using bleach, rinsing well afterwards with water, and drying thoroughly,” the FDA said.

“There is no evidence to suggest that pet owners who handle products containing aflatoxin are at risk of aflatoxin poisoning,” the agency added. “However, pet owners should always wash their hands after handling any pet food.”

More information

There’s more on product recalls at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

SOURCE: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, news release, Jan. 11, 2021

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Death toll set to double soon, Ontario declares state of emergency

After juggling for several days with the idea of ​​imposing a curfew like in Quebec, Ontario finally limited itself, Tuesday, to asking its citizens to stay at home at all times, except for a few outings. essential.

• Read also: 1,934 new cases and 47 more deaths in Quebec

• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic

As of 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Ontarians will no longer be able to leave their homes, except to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, to go to a medical appointment or to go for a walk. Essential workers will also, of course, be able to continue to come to work.

In doing so, the people of Ontario find themselves with a form of permanent curfew, but less restrictive than the one in place from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. in Quebec. In both cases, the measure will be in effect for four weeks, in the hope of reducing social contact and, ultimately, transmission of the virus.

In order to increase its chances, Ontario has also decided to keep its schools closed in the regions most affected by the pandemic, namely Toronto and its suburbs (the regions of York and Peel), Hamilton and Windsor-Essex until February 10. Until then, all students will be taking their course remotely. Day care centers and preschools are spared from this measure.

These instructions were accompanied by the triggering of the state of emergency for a second time in the province since the start of the pandemic. The first, which entered into force on March 17, remained in place until July 24.

“Several dark days are coming, but we’ll be fine. […] The people of Ontario have been through worse. I know it won’t be any different this time around, ”Premier Doug Ford commented grimly at a press conference.

“More than ever, we need – I need – you to do your part. Stay home, save lives and help save the health care system, which is on the verge of collapse and on the verge of being overwhelmed, ”continued Mr. Ford.

The Prime Minister strongly insisted on the importance of doing his part to limit the spread of COVID-19, despite fatigue from the virus and health measures. “New data shows one-third of Ontarians do not obey public health rules. Many travel and gather, ”he lamented, once again urging his fellow citizens to limit their social contact as much as possible.

Hours earlier, Ontario had announced that these models predict that up to 1,000 people could end up in intensive care in early February, compared to 400 currently, if nothing changes. The province also expects the daily death toll to double by mid-January.

Some key measures announced on Tuesday:

– Obligation to stay at home from Thursday, except for essential outings (grocery, medical, work, exercise);

– Schools remain closed until February 10 in the Toronto, Peel, York, Hamilton and Windsor-Essex regions;

– Any employee who can work from home must do telework;

– Fines may be given to those who contravene the order to stay at home without a good reason.


Criminal investigation after COVID-19 death at Cargill plant

OTTAWA | Canadian Federal Police announced Monday that they have launched a criminal investigation into a death caused by COVID-19, after the victim’s family filed a complaint against his former employer Cargill.

Benito Quesada, 51, a Mexican immigrant worked at the Cargill meat-packing plant in High River, Alta., Where he contracted the disease before dying in hospital in May.

In its complaint filed Friday, the family accuses the employer of criminal negligence, alleging that the company has failed to protect its workers from the pandemic.

This is the first time that Canadian police have opened a criminal investigation into a corporate COVID-19 death, according to media.

The US agricultural commodity trading and processing giant is accused of failing to provide its staff with adequate protective equipment.

Cargill is also accused of failing to respect social distancing between workers and of failing to send home those who tested positive or showed symptoms of the disease.

In addition, Cargill reportedly threatened to suspend employees who did not come to work and offered a bonus to those who did not fail.

This C $ 500 bonus is the reason Mr. Quesada kept commuting to work, according to his family.

“The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Federal Police, Editor’s note) is investigating allegations that Cargill is criminally involved in the death of an employee who died of COVID-19,” Brigadier Tammy Keibel told AFP .

“At the moment we are looking at a body of information (provided by the family) to see if there is any criminal element regarding Cargill,” she said, noting that the investigation was just beginning. .

The lawsuit was filed “so that justice can finally be done for my father, so that Cargill executives are finally held accountable for what they have done,” Ariana Quesada, 16, told English-language CBC.

By early May, nearly half of the plant’s 2,000 workers had tested positive for COVID-19, one of the largest outbreaks in the country.

Most businesses were forced to close at the start of the pandemic, but slaughterhouses and processing plants, considered essential services, were able to continue operating in Canada.