Thursday, April 19, 2012

Feds Indict Four Suspects For Conspiring To Distribute 110K Pounds Of Adulterated Mexican Cheese In U.S.

(FDA) Queso Cincho Guerrero

A Wisconsin cheese distributor among those included in a 6-count federal indictment for distributing tainted Mexican cheese in 2007.

By H. Nelson Goodson
April 19, 2012

Chicago - On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago announced that four suspects were indicted for their part in conspiring to distribute adulterated Mexican dry cheese throughout the U.S. in 2007. The suspects allegedly scraped or washed mold and fungus from contaminated cheese sold to customers, after other customers returned the bad cheese. One suspect own an Illinois company that imported the dry cheese from Mexico and then a Wisconsin company acted as a distributor and sold the cheese nationwide.
A Wisconsin distributor in Darlington and Elmhurst engaged in mass distribution of the Mexican cheese to five states, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Texas, and Georgia with a brand name Queso Cincho Guerrero in 35 to 40-pound cheese wheels, despite after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 15, 2007 had ordered a hold of 110,000 pounds of Mexican cheese. When the FDA inspectors went to the Elmhurst facility to inspect the cheese five days later, the cheese was missing from the plant. 
The Wisconsin distributor was forced to do a recall of the Mexican cheese in 2007, according to the federal indictement.
The FDA had found traces of salmonella, e. coli and other illness-causing bacteria that would endanger the public health, if consumed. No one was ever reported sick from buying and consuming the cheese, according the the FDA.
Those indicted were Guadalupe Zurita, 42, aka, José Zurita of Villahermosa, Mexico who owned the Illinois company that imported the Mexican cheese and later closed the importing business in February 2007. A federal warrant has been issued for Guadalupe Zurita who presently lives in Mexico.
Miguel Leal, 47, of Monroe, Wisconsin who owned the company in Darlington and operated another facility in Elmhurst, but in July 2007 sold the company to another Mexican corporation.
Cynthia Gutierrez, 37, of Cicero, Illinois worked as the finance and operations manager for the Elmhurst company.
Baldemar Zurita, 39, aka, Tony Zurita who is the brother of Guadalupe was also indicted with the other suspects. Baldemar was taken into custody on Thursday.
All the suspects were charged with conspiracy to distribute adulterated cheese through interstate commerce and violating the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. They were also charged with providing false information and three counts of violating food safety laws.
If convicted on all counts, each suspect is facing up to 30 years in a federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines for each count.

Federal Mexican cheese indictment at link:

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